Mediating Agriculture in the Age of “Open-Source” - Gabriela Mendez Cota

How can contemporary agricultural issues inform debates around ‘openness’ in media and cultural studies? How can these debates in turn productively ‘mediate’ agricultural struggles in the context of technoscientific knowledge production? As a way of approaching these questions, I will re-trace my own steps from new media studies to an examination of the cultural politics of an agricultural struggle, and back to new media studies via ‘open source agriculture’ as a relevant instance of the promises and challenges of ‘openness’ in a digitized world. First, I will present a sketch of my current research on Mexican ‘maize nationalism’ as it is being deployed against genetically engineered maize. Second, I will explain how my work for Living Books About Life has allowed me to unlock the cage of nationalist discourse in order to imagine different, more complex ways of resisting the enclosure of life by transnational agribusiness. Finally, I will raise the more specific question I’m concerned with at the moment: if ‘open source agriculture’ is a potential, at least partial solution to the capitalist enclosure of life, how can media and cultural studies engage with it in a critical, productive way?


Gabriela Méndez Cota is a doctoral student in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Drawing on her humanities training, she has worked on issues related to technology, such as technological blind spots in Western philosophy and the status of technology in contemporary critiques of metaphysics. More recently she has been investigating the ethical and political aspects of particular understandings of technology. Her PhD thesis develops a critical interdisciplinary approach, rooted in philosophy and media and cultural studies, to the complex relations between agricultural biotechnology and the cultural politics of Mexican nationalism.