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"Cannibalism and Sadness: The Cloning of Californian Oranges in São Paulo and the Writing of Global History of Science"

When: Monday, May 10, 2021
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM Central

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Janet Hundrieser   847.491.3525

Group: Science in Human Culture Program - Klopsteg Lecture Series

Category: Lectures & Meetings



Tiago Saraiva


"Cannibalism and Sadness: The Cloning of Californian Oranges in São Paulo and the Writing of Global History of Science"


This talk experiments with anthropophagy, or ritualized cannibalism, to write histories of science challenging entrenched divisions between Global North and Global South. While explorations on anthropophagy have been central to the ontological turn in science studies, I suggest the value of historically situating the concept among the modernist São Paulo avant-garde of the inter-war period to understand the significance of cloning practices learned by Brazilian agriculture scientists in California. Attention to the work of Brazilian researchers dealing with the ravages of a virus affecting local orange orchards – the sadness virus - reveals a continuum of practices of scientists and artists, all invested in saving Brazil from its alleged condition of ‘tropical sadness’. Contrasting with narratives stressing how the north imposes its presence in the south, or how the south resists the north, history of science written as history of cannibalism emphasizes the historical role of science in the devouring of the north by the south.


Professor Saraiva is an Associate Professor of History at Drexel University, coeditor with Amy Slaton of the journal History and Technology, and author of Fascist Pigs: Technoscientific Organisms and the History of Fascism (2016), winner of the 2017 Pfizer Prize awarded by the History of Science Society. He has been a Research fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon and visiting professor at UCLA and UC Berkeley. He is a historian of science and technology interested in the connections between science, crops, and politics at the global scale. After revisiting the history of European fascism through stories of technoscientific organisms such as wheat, pigs, and sheep, he has been studying the significance of cloning Californian oranges for the history of racial capitalism in the United States, South Africa, Algeria, Palestine, and Brazil. He has just completed the manuscript of The Orchard in the Ruins: Cloning and American Racial Capitalism in the Global South, which will be published with the MIT press in 2022.

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