Work Package 1: Reproduction of Nature in the High-Tech Bioeconomy (Miriam Boyer)
This Work Package focuses on the material transformation of living nature as the basis of the High-Tech Bioeconomy. It analyzes how (high) technologies and scientific paradigms in recent decades have shaped the economic valorization of living nature with a focus on two spatial scales: The scale of molecular biotechnologies and the scale of landscapes. The Work Package departs from two key concepts framing both reproduction of nature and economic production in the bioeconomy: ‘biomass’ and ‘biodiversity’. Each is approached from a historical and spatial perspective, showing how they stand in tension to one another, thus shaping the specific materiality of (re)production and valorization of nature in the High-Tech Bioeconomy. The Work Package is informed by theoretical perspectives grounded in critical geography, the critique of political economy and the history of science and technology.
Key words: (Re)production, materiality, (bio)technologies, spatial scales, valorization, high-tech
Work Package 2: Digitalization and Food production in the Bioeconomy (Louisa Prause)
This work package brings together debates on digital capitalism and digital labor with the fields of critical agrarian studies and political ecology. The research looks at how digitalization impacts land and labor relations in agricultural food production with a specific focus on the impact of digital technologies on labor struggles and land conflicts. Key questions are how new forms of labor control are facilitated through digital technologies, how these technologies bring about new forms of resistance and how labor organisations and movements engage with digitalisation in food production. The work package furthermore looks at how digital technologies contribute to changes in the access to and control over land and the conflicts associated with changes in land control and land use. Theoretically, the work package will contribute to conceptualizing the ‘digital’ and the relationship between digital technologies and capitalist developments in the countryside. Field research for this work package is carried out in Germany and South Africa.
Key words: digital capitalism, agrarian labor, land conflicts, agrarian and labor movements
Work Package 3: The Politics of Digitalization in the High-Tech-Bioeconomy (Sarah Hackfort)
The work package analyzes the role and the impact of precision technologies in different processes of appropriating and valorizing nature in the bioeconomy. It focuses on technologies that create an interface with bio-based processes at different scales (e.g. agricultural data platforms, precision agriculture, or digitally-enabled molecular biotechnologies). By doing so, it approaches high-tech transformations in the agri-food system as part of the bioeconomy and their implications for production and reproduction processes. To do so, it brings together political ecology perspectives with debates around technology and digitalization. Main research questions are how the technologies shape and are shaped by democracy and conflicts (e.g. over patents or data) and what role political institutions and societal actors play therein. Research is informed by theoretical perspectives grounded in feminist theory, democracy theory, political ecology and critical perspectives on nature and technology. Empirical field work is planned in Germany, USA/Canada and Mexico.
Key words: politics of digitalization, democracy and (bio)technology, high-tech agriculture
Work Package 4: Sustainability transitions in oil-producing countries and their impact on water and agricultural production (Margit Norheim Lindgren)
This work package asks how sustainability politics shape social relations in oil-producing countries in the context of the climate crisis. It focuses in particular on how states dependent on oil wealth to provide food and water security are funding the innovation and implementation of sustainable and digital technologies in water and agricultural production. The work package will look at these dynamics as they are unfolding in the context of Saudi Arabia, a country undergoing economic diversification and infrastructural developments in the agriculture and water sectors in order to face the challenge of depleting water resources and insufficient arable land for a growing population. The work package will adopt an interdisciplinary methodological approach and is informed by perspectives grounded in post-colonial theory, political ecology, historical materialism, and science and technology studies.
Key words: sustainability; water; agriculture; (bio)technologies; infrastructures
Work Package 5: Aspects of Socio-Ecological Inequalities and Rural Development in the Bioeconomy (Franziska Kusche)
This work package focuses on the socio-ecological aspects of inequalities in rural areas due to a consolidation of an unequal relation between urban and rural modes of living and production in the Bioeconomy. It does so by bringing together approaches of critical development theory, critical political economy, social ecology and critical rurality studies that are new to the German context. The main focus is put on the question of how rurality as a disadvantaged spatial and social position is restructured due to continuous but changing socio-ecological unequal relations and recent transformations associated with the bioeconomy. Part of this will be a critical review of paradigms of rural development in the global North and South, the analysis of aspects of a `rural metabolism´ following the theory of social metabolisms and social-metabolic regimes as well as historical and new approaches to alternative socio-economic rural organisation. The basis of research will be historical cases as well as new developments in Europe (e.g. Germany, Austria, Finland, Sweden) and Latin America.
Key Words: rural development, rurality, socio-ecological inequalities, rural metabolism, reclaim the village
Work Package 6: Climate action and the Bioeconomy: The Case of Plant-Based Meat Analogues (Camila Moreno)
This work package investigates the global trend towards plant-based meat analogues as a culturally and economically relevant phenomena within the context of climate action and the larger bioeconomy-transition landscape. It approaches meat analogues to understand the role of synthetic biology in value creation and as a fractal of the larger vision of a bio-based future and how it is governed. Key concepts that inform this research are biopolitical imaginaries and technocracy. The empirical case study will contextualize the social, economic and cultural logics in which the plant-based-meat analogues emerge and are valued. The convergence of carbon and nutritional metrics is analyzed as ‘impact’ metrics for sustainability and the ‘matter-realities’ they embody. This reflection aims to further theorize upon ‘carbon metrics’ as the value-form of bioeconomy and its role within the dynamics of contemporary capitalism. This research will draw from epistemology, economic sociology and anthropology. Field research will be carried out in Brazil, China (or India).
Key words: meat analogues, protein, biopolitical, value, technocracy, carbon metric