Rachel Soper

BA: UC Santa Cruz, Sociology

Areas of specialization: sociology of food and agriculture, Latin America, development, environment, social movements

My research and teaching interests focus on sustainable development, especially with respect to the tension between food localism and export agriculture. My dissertation project explores the impact of non-traditional agricultural exports on indigenous farming communities through a comparative ethnography in the Ecuadorian highlands. I analyze the food self-sufficiency, agrarian modernization, participation in indigenous movement protests, and food sovereignty discourse of indigenous peasant farmers who supply commercial crops for export commodity chains, including Fair Trade and organic certified quinoa, agribusiness contracted broccoli, and fresh-cut flower plantations. My class, LATI 180: Environmental Inequality in the Americas, surveys the unequal distribution of economic benefit and environmental harm throughout the history of Latin America – from colonial silver mines to fair trade bananas to migrant farm workers – with particular emphasis on the ideologies of racial inferiority that justify systems of production.

Graduate Students