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  1. 2018.01.26 Tiago Saraiva, Fascist Pigs (2016)
독서/STS2018. 1. 26. 22:30

Tiago Saraiva, Fascist Pigs: Technoscientific Organisms and the History of Fascism (The MIT Press, 2016)




I Nation


1. Wheat

2. Wheat

3. Potatoes

4. Pigs

II Empire


5. Coffee, Rubber, and Cotton

6. Sheep






Fascism as biopolitics. The making and growing of animals and plants embodying fascism. The point is to extend the notion of biopolitics. Fascist collectives included organisms that breeders of plants and animals produced through new practices of the sciences of heredity—life forms as important as human bodies in making fascism. This book builds on Canguilhem’s attention to specific technoscientific organisms to explore the historical dynamics of fascism.


Fascism as Alternative Modernity

Roger Griffin, fascism as a modernist political ideology (a coherent political project of national rebirth promising a sense of transcendence and purpose to societies allegedly under the modern menaces of individualism, social anomy, alienation, and instability). Fascism, much more than a radicalized version of old-fashioned conservatism; it is an all-encompassing modernist social experiment with the purpose of inventing a new national community.

Food and the Fascist Organic Nation

In fascist studies food is a lumper whereas race is a splitter. Food was central to translating the fascist ideology of the organic nation into concrete policies. The Battaglia del Grano (Battle of Wheat, 1925), soon to be reproduced in Portugal (Wheat Campaign, 1929) and later in Germany (Erzeugunsschlacht; Battle for Production, 1934). All mobilized to protect the national community.

Model Organisms, Industrialized Organisms, and Fascism

It emphasized the fact that such organisms were technoscientific organisms—modern products of scientific breeding operations. Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, “epistemology of the concrete.” The particular forms modernity assumed in different historical contexts. The author points at the need to complicate the notions of modernity. The increasing ability to tinker with plant and animal life—my extended version of biopolitics—enabled the materialization of different political projects, alternative modernities, good and bad, fascism being clearly among the bad ones.

Fascist Ontology and the Structure of the Book

Fascism is taken as a historical context to which scientists’ practices and objects contributed; the argument is less about fascist epistemology than about fascist ontology. Such a formulation is a direct reference to the alleged recent ontological turn in STS and the increased interest in studying the being of entities (ontology) at the expense of inquiring about modes of knowing entities (epistemology).

Annemarie Mol, The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice (Duke University Press, 2003)

John Law, Aircraft Stories: Decentering the Object in Technoscience (Duke University Press, 2002)

Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics (Duke University Press, 2010)

Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke University Press, 2007)

Steve Woolgar and Javier Lezaun, “The wrong bin bag”

The very same notion of technoscience, pointing at knowledge production more as a mode of intervention than as revelation or discovery, leads to a conflation of epistemology and ontology.

Bruno Latour, The Pasteurization of France (Harvard University Press, 1993)

Peter Galison, Einstein's Clocks and Poincare's Maps: Empires of Time (Norton, 2003)




“Think things”: “a phrase meant to invoke the multiple meanings ascribed to particular material artifacts, even those apparently subject to the thinning regime of modern science.” Scientific things, it is argued, encapsulate a much richer world than the one associated with the thin scientific objects of traditional historical narratives characterized by their detachment from culture. To achieve a better understanding of how fascist societies came into being and how they expanded. I have insisted on using the explanatory power of historical narratives of technoscientific things to explore the nature of concrete political regimes. M. Norton Wise urged historians to embrace their typical methodology of talking “the individual case as representative of larger developments, even though it can never be abstracted from its specific circumstances.” As model organisms are not abstract entities and their actual existence in the real world often leads scientists into unforeseen phenomena, so the intense tinkering with concrete historical technoscientific things led the historical research into unexpected paths. The weaving of Things histories seems, in fact, an adequate narrative technique with which to make sense of practices aimed at producing fascist collectives through the scientific production of things.


I Nation


The author argues that pigs and potatoes were at the core of a major effort by the Nazi regime to root Germans in the national soil—an effort that was aimed at transforming German society into a national community, a Gesellschaft into a Gemeinschaft. A crude notion of culture: In too many narratives we are left with no more than a set of values and beliefs that are supposed to characterize fascism movements and regimes. Beliefs entail those actions. (My comment: would it be more appropriate to use ‘practices’ than ‘actions’? The author would agree that still we need to analyze those beliefs and its meanings embodied on ‘expressed beliefs’ and those of others’.) The main question here is how the making and growing of new strains of plants and animals could embody a new political regime. Performativity. Wheat, potatoes, and pigs performed fascism and thus are properly considered fascist wheat, fascist potatoes, and fascist pigs.


1 Wheat: Food Battles, Elite Breeds, and Mussolini’s Fascist Regime


The Italian War for Bread Independence

Fascist envisaged Italy as an autarkic economy, able to release itself from dependency on the “plutocratic states” that dominated the world economy: the British Empire and the US

Producing and Circulating Purity

The Seeds of Victory

The targeting of small landholders didn’t change the fact that large farmers were the main beneficiaries of the system. In order for Ardito to circulate from the geneticist’s experimental plot to the farmers’ fields, the fields had to be converted into spaces reproducing the laboratory conditions of the experiment station. The lodging-resistant Ardito delivered on the fascists’ promise of stronger nationalism but not on the promise of egalitarianism.

Human and Non-Human Arditi

The human Arditi were a recurrent symbol of fascist iconography. The naming of the strain leaves few doubts about the political allegiances of Strampelli, who would join the National Fascist Party in 1925. It suggested that the new wheat strain could materialize the constant mobilization demanded by fascist ideology, making indistinguishable war in the trenches and cultivation of the national soil.

The combination of mass mobilization, charismatic leadership, state power, and ideology of the land was characteristically fascist. In Italy, before the Battle of Wheat launched in 1925, there had been no comparable initiative able to bring all these features together.


2 Wheat: The Integral Nation, Genetics, and Salazar’s Corporatist Fascist State


Integral Wheat Fields

Jose Pequito Rebelo (1892-1983), a large landowner who developed Integral Method. Strong ideas about the national soil were central to Integralists’ visions of the organic nation. Ruralization was to become one of the main features of the recently inaugurated dictatorial regime.

The Portuguese Wheat Campaign: Chemical Fertilizers and Large Estates

In 1929, the dictatorship launched a national mobilization for bread self-sufficiency.

Ardito in Portugal: Plant Breeding and the Fascist Corporatist State

The circulation of geneticists’ artifacts was not an automatic procedure. Locality was still crucial in genetic flows. António de Sousa da Câmara (1901-1971), the executive organizer of the Wheat Campaign. Scientists and their technoscientific organisms—high-yielding seeds—participating directly in the building of a corporatist state that removed all mechanisms of liberal representation and replaced them with an allegedly organic structure based on “economic solidarities.”

Modernism, Genetics, and the New State

In Portugal, as in Italy, there was no contradiction between ruralization and modernization. It was through agriculture that the new alternative modernity of Salazar’s fascist corporatist state came into being. Câmara’s echoing the organic corporatist state (p. 65). Propaganda Secretariat campaign: Everything was rural, but a streamlined rural as if seen through futurist lenses.


3 Potatoes: Pests, Plant Breeding, and the Growth of the Nazi State


World War I Famines and Potatoes

Because potatoes were among the few staples that the German soil produced in sufficient quantities, they became important to the rootedness of the national community envisaged by the Nazis. In the 1930s the vast majority of German adults had had acute personal experiences of hunger. The starvation events of World War I were repeatedly used in subsequent years to justify increasing support for the plant pathology research.


Wart disease was first detected in Germany in 1908 in Westphalia. By 1927 it was present in every region of the country. The research on wart disease had also led to an important development in the methodology for classifying potato varieties.

The BRA and the RNS: The Streamlined Estate and the 1934 Seed Decree

The Seed Decree issued by Darre’s Ministry in March 1934, established a compulsory registering system in which only the best varieties of each crop were allowed into the list, these being the only ones that could be sold in the market. In subsequent years, the exclusion of some varieties would extend to cultivation itself. Potatoes that after having been tested at the BRA (Biologische Bundesanstalt für Land- und Forstwirtschaft) were considered as not contributing to the nutritional independence of the Volk didn’t have a place in Nazi Germany. Reichsnährstand (RNS—Reich Food Estate) exercised more or less direct control over more than 25 percent of Germany’s GDP and constituted the largest economic unit in the world. After the Nazis seized power, the seed market, like everything else related to agriculture, would be centrally regulated. Eduard Riehm, the director of the BRA from Otto Appel’s retirement in 1933 till 1945. The Seed Decree of March 1934 confirms the importance of seed circulation for the streamlined RNS. The fact that a seed decree was issued no more than a year into Nazi rule merits reflection. It was not for the market to decide the value of a variety; such value was defined at the BRA in accordance with the general food policy of the regime as established by the RNS.

The Colorado Potato Beetle

The effort to eradicate beetle became an effective way of getting rural people, children, and women included, to participate in the defense of the fatherland. The training courses, the images on children’s calendars, and the demonstration kits all contributed to making the Colorado Beetle into an enemy menacing the survival of the national community. Every finding and subsequent elimination of a beetle was transformed into a significant contribution to the food battle keeping the German race alive. A kind of participatory science.

Late Blight


The different combinations of potato varieties, pathogen strains, and inoculation methods constituted generative experimental systems that led to new epistemic objects and the possibility of incorporating new techniques. The different experimental systems that structured the organizational chart of the BRA were built on resources previously developed by other sections of the BRA.

Experimental Systems and the Expansion of the Nazi Regime

To tinker with combinations of potatoes, pathogens, and inoculation tests, to tinker with experimental systems, led to new epistemic things such as Muller’s phytoalexin. The RNS based its control of the seed circuit on the tests developed at the BRA. In the opposite direction, the BRA used the RNS’s regional structure to guarantee that its standards would reach the entire country. It probably is better to speak of co-production of science and the state than to speak of resources as if science and politics were two different spheres. The particular politics associated with Nazism that phytopathology work contributed to. Potatoes proved to be significant historical subjects to understand the Nazi regime at work.


4 Pigs: The Bodenständig Scientific Community in Nazi Germany


Breeding and Feeding Pigs and Germans

Richard Walther Darré—the main agrarian ideologue of Nazi Germany, “Blut und Boden” and Minister of Food and Agriculture from 1933 to 1942. His essay “The pig as a distinguishing feature for northern peoples and semites” (Das Schwein als Kriterium für nordische Völker und Semiten). The life trajectories of himself and his high esteem for the place of pigs in the German national community provide a vantage point from which to explore the entanglements between science and Nazism. There is no doubt his own account of the profound effects of those three scientists (Theodor Roemer, Gustav Frolich and Johannes Walther). As suggestive as these analogies between humans and pigs may be, we now know how little practical effect they had in cultivating an SS aristocracy. The very concrete experience of hunger familiar to the German population during World War I (My comment: Very much interesting. Reducing the size of the German pig herd as a plot by Jewish academics to eliminate the German race. Shows how historical narratives, whether be real or mythical, works in embodying fascist policies). Darré always combined the themes of peasant revival with those of mobilization for food production, equating the Volk with an organism dependent on nutrition for survival.

German Academia and Pig Modernization in the Interwar Years: The Emergence of Performance Records

Performance Tests and the Nazi Bureaucracy

The fattening performance tests developed at academic institutes offered standards with which to evaluate animals’ potential contribution to the building of the Nazi regime. But performance tests could have such large effects only if connected with an extended bureaucracy reaching the entire territory. An important part of academic research in animal breeding in the Nazi years was to explore the relations between form and performance, promising to overcome the differences between commercial breeders’ visual evaluations and academic breeder’s tests.

Nutritional Freedom and Fats

Jonas Schmidt. The idea was not to produce hybrid breeding animals; it was to have the first generation of hybrid swine used exclusively for fattening, not for reproduction.

Bodenständigkeit (Rootedness in the soil)

The challenge was to increase fat and protein production through animals avoiding fodder imports from abroad. Swine were evolving in the desired direction. The changing geography of pig production also reflected the changing nature of pigs during the Nazi years. All those animals not complying with the standard of rootedness in the soil established by academic animal breeders were to be slaughtered. Only the new fat pigs, making efficient use of national fodders, sustained the community of Blut und Boden announced by Darre and guaranteed the nutritional freedom of the German Volk as articulated by Backe.

Fascist Pigs

The political Nazi imagination was already being molded by Frolich and by other scientists who were tinkering with the possibilities of producing animals less dependent on foreign imports. The combination of performance tests, fats, and rootedness in the soil may guide us in systematizing the connections between pigs and the fascist nature of Nazism. Closely associate with fascist militarism was exacerbated nationalism, nurtured by the feeding of the people through produce from the national soil. Pigs served first and foremost to nurture the national community, not to thrive in capitalist markets. This transcendent nature of peg rearing and feeding was also made present by RNS leaflets urging German women to feed animals on leftovers from their households. The mammoth state structure of the RNS was built on the implementation of such standards as the animal performance tests developed at Gottingen and Halle. Performance tests ensured that pigs were fat and rooted in the soil, making pigs contributing to the Nazi regime through militarism, nationalism, transcendentalism, and statism. Performance tests were designed to produce fascist pigs. Nazism, Heidegger asserted, became part of the “machinations” and “Total Mobilization” characteristic of Modernity, with science enlisted in the “domination and regulation of all objects for the sake of their usefulness and breeding.” Breeding, for Heidegger, made life useful, objectified it, forming part of the overarching modern process of uprooting humans from the soil through the forgetting of Being. The paradox lies in the fact that animal breeders used rootedness in the soil (Bodenständigkeit) as the guiding principle of their activities. Heidegger could have claimed that German breeders such as Frolich and Schmidt didn’t understand that their hogs were indistinguishable from American or British ones: they were just all modern. The animals scientists designed were intended to perform the transition of German society into a national community, embodying Nazi alternative modernity.


II Empire


In all three cases, strong claims about the importance of the national soil for the survival of the organic nation translated into imperial expansionism. The author contends that organisms were central in materializing dangerously murderous imperial visions into concrete projects in the European possessions (Poland and Ukraine) and the African possession (Libya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola) of the three fascist regimes. The author uses the concrete cases of the raising of Karakul sheep and the cultivation of the rubber substitute kok-sagyz to explore Nazi Germany’s occupation of eastern Europe through the lenses of colonial history. In crude terms, the Third Reich points to fascism while the Third Portuguese Empire and Mussolini’s Great Italy point to colonialism. Fascist states were colonial latecomers. Bouda Etemad’s estimation: whereas about 130 colonial wars from 1871 to 1914 implied between 280,000 and 300,000 dead soldiers among European powers, they were responsible for 50 million to 60 m deaths among the colonized populations, 90 percent of the victims civilians.

Bouda Etemad, POSSESSING THE WORLD: Taking the Measurements of Colonisation from the 18th to the 20th Century (Berghahn Books, 2007)

Western nations would have been less appalled by the violence of Italy’s occupation of Ethiopia in 1935 if the undertaking had occurred about 40 years earlier. It is telling that at the moment Europeans powers were undertaking reforms of their colonial labor systems, Portugal was starting a gigantic cotton production scheme based on the violent labor practices of the Belgian Congo being subject of reform. Fascist empires were built on, and in reaction to, other European imperial experiences. Fascist regimes allowed less space, if any, for reform or for accommodation of claims made by indigenous populations. Also, their wars of occupation came late, in the German and Italian cases facing well-developed state structures and thus resulting in more brutal conflicts. The breeding of animals and of plants is particularly relevant for such an exercise since, as I argue throughout this book, the fascists’ imperial ambitions were materialized largely through agriculture undertakings. The different breeds organizing the narrative reveal intentions, challenges, realities, and failures of the fascist imperial new order.


5 Coffee, Rubber, and Cotton: Cash Crops, Forces Labor, and Fascist Imperialism in Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Eastern Europe


Coffee promised to turn Mussolini’s takeover in eastern Africa into a profitable operation, Hitler dreamed that the eastern European steppes would produce rubber for the Nazi war machine, and Salazar envisioned masses of Mozambique native cultivators sustaining Portugal’s textile industry. The mobilization of indigenous people’s work for commodities production, emphasizing the continuity of fascist colonialism with other European post-slavery imperial experiences.


Coffee and the Colonization of Italian East Africa

1936. Armando Maugini, director of the Colonial Agricultural Institute in Florence and chief technical advisor to the Ministry of Colonies during the occupation of Ethiopia. The Experimental Agricultural and Zootechnic Center for Italian Oriental Africa (CSAZAOI) began to operate in 1938. To test these varieties under Ethiopian conditions and to hybridize them with local landraces. Coffee arabica also migrated originally from the Ethiopian plateau to the mountains of Yemen and from there into all the other important coffee production areas of the world. If wheat proved essential to feed the colonial army and the builders of the colonial infrastructure, coffee was the main commodity that enabled Italians to dream of Ethiopia as an important source of revenue. Coffee embodied for the white settler the promise of a way out of the miserable peasant life of metropolitan Italy. Coffee production condensed all different forms of colonial practices in the territory. Italian breeders couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about the opportunity of tinkering with coffee diversity at tis center of origin where variability was the highest.

European Heart of Darkness: Rubber and the Role of Auschwitz as a Colonial Agricultural Experiment Station

Heinrich Himmler’s grandiloquent titles, his nomination in Feb 1943 as Plenipotentiary for All Issues Related to Plant Rubber (Reichsführer-SS als Sonderbeauftragter für Pflanzenkautschuk). The push toward rubber autarky explains much of the investment in the expensive production of synthetic rubber—Buna—by IG Farben and its gigantic facility in Auschwitz. The immediate needs to carry on the war effort were covered by the taking over of rubber stocks from conquered territories, but a more sustainable source was needed. Susanne Heim’s archival sources. As Mark Mazower has suggested, and as Nazi rubber confirms, the history of the twentieth century fully justifies the description of Europe as a “Dark Continent.” Taraxacum kok-sagyz, a dandelion-like plant that Soviet plant breeders had been working with since the early 1930s (Nikolai Vavilov’s expeditions to Central Asia in the Tien Shan Mountains). If Ukrainian peasants were resentful of Bolshevik previous imposition of kok-sagyz cultivation, they demonstrated the same unwillingness to plant it under the new German imperial rule. Partisan presence in the occupied regions significantly hindered cultivation activities. Auschwitz had thus the double nature of labor and death camp, setting it apart from most other camps that were either dedicated to one or the other. The agricultural dimension is a crucial one to understand the nature of the place and its role in the Nazi empire. It embodied the Nazi empire, built on mass killing and over exploitation of “inferior races.” While men were used as forced labor in the industrial IG Farben chemical complex, women were the gardeners and computers of the plant-breeding operations. Auschwitz reproduced the gendered colonial labor division at work of the Third Reich beyond the area delimited by barbed wire. Kok-sagyz shows the scandalous continuities of Nazi colonial Europe with colonial situations in Africa. Himmler’s monstrous dreams originated from his irrational racist ideology, but they were converted into alleged feasible projects by the making and growing of technoscientific organisms, in this case, high-latex kok-sagyz.

Cotton Breeding and Portugal’s Colonial Regime in Mozambique

Aurelio Quintanilha (1892-1987) had very different political allegiances from those of Armando Maugini, the main colonial agricultural expert of fascist Italy, or Joachim Caesar, the head of the Auschwitz plant-breeding research. By denying Quintanilha access to his laboratory, the results of seven years of research on cytology and genetics of fungi were totally lost. The individual political preferences of a scientist, totally contrary to fascism, prove to be irrelevant when inquiring the role of his research for the expansion of the regime. It was in the brutal context of the cotton regime that the anarcho-syndicalist Aurelio Quintanilha was supposed to lead the Center for Cotton Scientific Research (CICA). More important than inquiring about the attitude of Portugal’s fascist regime in favor or against science, is to understand how scientific artifacts contributed to maintain its imperial dreams. The materialization of fascist imperial undertakings through the cultivation of breeders’ artifacts was built on a colonial repertoire developed previously by other European powers.


It was in the colonies that fascism showed its most brutal face. Unfortunately, this death toll is of the same order of magnitude of the wars of colonial expansion of the last third of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The most violent dimension of fascism was colonial expansion. The main difference of fascist colonial experiences was timing and lack of routes for reform, leading to characteristically more violent practices. Fascist empires would still belong to the family of European colonial empires, just as Portugal’s Third Empire did. It was the breeding work on coffee at Malco experiment fields, on kok-sagyz at Auschwitz, and on cotton at CICA laboratories in Lourenco Marques (today Maputo) that made plausible the vision of imperial territories supplying the autarkic economies of fascist regimes. The technoscientific organisms coming out of the breeders’ plots were the ones materializing on the ground the grand rhetoric of Lebensraum, Grande Italia, and “Portugal is not a small country.” Breeders’ artifacts integrated fascist nations in the larger dark colonial history of grabbing land for the production of cash crops grown by natives through violent forced-labor regimes. The new organisms enlarged the organic nation through Empire.


6 Sheep: Fascist Settlers and the Colonization of Africa and Europe


Karakul and the Nazi Eastern Empire

Instead of getting lost in the Nazi bureaucratic maze, the author would like to follow the sheep and see what they may reveal about Germany’s eastward expansion and about the fascist imperial ventures of Italy and Portugal. Karakul sheep are highly valued animals, originating from Bukhara in Uzbekistan, whose pelts are used to produce the famous Persian fur coast also known as Astrakhan. Sheep raising had been identified as part of the economic activities sustaining the settlers of the General Plan East, the Nazi blueprint for the future of eastern Europe. Considering the highly developed exploration of Karakul sheep by Soviet animal breeders, it seems reasonable to suppose that the Germans’ Kriwoj Rog Experiment Station in southeast Ukraine was also based on preexistent Soviet research efforts.

Karakul as Model Organism and Industrialized Organism: Curl Formation and Fur Markets

Karakul’s double status of experimental and research object. The recording practices that standardized the Karakul as a scientific model organism thus led as well to its standardization as an industrialized organism ready to be marketable.

Circulating Karakul I: Uzbekistan, Germany, and South West Africa

As in eastern European under Nazi rule, the metaphors of the American frontier helped make sense of German colonizers’ actions in South West Africa. Civilization was to be advanced by converting open pastureland into farms demarcated by barbed wire and settled by German colonizers. Paradoxically, settlers performed a mimicry of indigenous practices. Even in such extreme cases as imperial genocide as in South West Africa or in Nazi-controlled eastern Europe, settler life is always built on indigenous resources. Hitler’s 1941 European New Order: To invoke the historical importance of research done at Halle for the thriving of German communities in South West Africa was to assert he importance of esoteric concerns with the genetics of hair development for the expansion of the Reich into eastern Europe.

Circulating Karakul II: Germany, Italy, Libya, and Ethiopia

The raising of Karakul offered a hope of reproducing the German miracle in South West Africa by producing wealth, in the form of furs, out of the desert while sustaining a proud settler community. The myth of a benign form of Italian colonialism tolerant of local costumes has proved hard to debunk. Punishment, execution, and death by starvation were daily occurrences. In both Germany and the Soviet Union, Karakul had been used already as a model organism in artificial-insemination experiments. Double status of Karakul experiments: it was an organism whose reproduction was being industrialized to increase profits from its production; but it was also a model organism standing for other organisms in exploring the general usefulness of artificial insemination. Determining which animals would be allowed to reproduce and which would be eliminated from a herd meant intervening at the core of indigenous life. Control of animal reproduction constituted an obligatory passage point (Michel Callon) translating questions of colonial power and political independence.

J. Law ed., Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge? (1986)

Circulating Karakul III: South West Africa and Angola

From the very early stages of the dictatorial regime that came out of the military coup of 1926, the empire had been one of its central features, as was confirmed by the appointment of Salazar as Minister of the Colonies in 1930 and the issuing of the Colonial Act that same year. Only by ignoring the existence of semi-nomadic people such as the Bedouins in Libya or the Herero in South West Africa, and by denying their entitlement to the land, was it possible to dream of gigantic estates marked by barbed wire fences holding millions of Karakul sheep. The presence of Karakul is a good marker of colonial genocides. Experiment stations were the first materialization in the landscape of the fascist colonial project, of the alternative modernity of settlers attached to the land through the reproduction of technoscientific organisms. Any Karakul project begins with the importing of pure-blood Karakul to be crossed with local sheep. Purity was a central principle of Karakul husbandry. Pureblood males were separated from the herd, contracting females only for reproduction; hybrid males were slaughtered or castrated. The strict surveillance over purity and controlled hybridization of nonhuman animals had direct consequences for colonial relations.


By exploring the historical trajectories of these organisms, one is able to understand how the expansionist ambitions of fascist regimes were to be materialized in frontier landscapes. Colonialism is a crucial feature of fascist regimes performing the tasks of national destiny, racial superiority, and economic independence. Karakul is a good point of entry to the larger history of fascist frontier genocide. The claim for integrating nonhuman animals in the narrative is well in tune with suggestions by environmental historians to build historical accounts by paying attention to bison, dogs, or mosquitoes. Had we ignored the work undertaken by animal geneticists at the University of Halle, we would not have been able to understand how Karakul traveled from Uzbekistan to South West Africa, or from Germany to Italy and from there to North Africa. Experiment stations as exemplary settlements were experimenting with colonialism at large, materializing fascism dreams of Lebensraum and Grande Italia, and “Portugal is not a small country.” 

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