Topic: Practices, politics and the renegotiation of “regimes of living” in a digital transforming agriculture
In recent years the development and implementation of digital technologies has led to a rapid transformation in almost all areas of the working world. In agriculture these changes are addressed by using terms like “precision” or “smart farming”. In Switzerland digital change in agriculture is explicitly pushed forward by the government. In September 2018 the Federal Council released a national strategy “Digital Switzerland” which includes the aim of increasing competitiveness and sustainability of agriculture by the development and expansion of smart farming. However, while politics, the private sector and research in agricultural science work on ways of promoting digital technology on Swiss farms, little qualitative analysis has been done so far to investigate the impact in everyday life and work of farmers. Our project “Negotiating life within a digitally transforming agriculture” is based at Basel University and turns toward this laguna. Understanding digital agriculture as an assemblage in which different (human and non-human) actors, interests, practices and “regimes of living” (Collier/Lakoff 2018) coincide on different locations and on different levels (including state and private funded laboratories as well as research farms, farming schools, agricultural fairs and shows, individual farms etc.) we are interested, firstly, in the process of digitization. How is digitization brought to the Swiss farms? What are the mediating actors and practices? How are digital technologies intermingling with agricultural practices and what effects do they have on the latter? Secondly, we are interested in questions of “life”. What notions of life occur and what distinctions are made between different kinds of live? How is life reassembled in new ways in the digital agriculture? In my paper I will present and discuss the first findings and the leading assumptions of our newly started project.