Title page for ETD etd-02212011-142539

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Raina, Sunita
Author's Email Address sraina@vt.edu
URN etd-02212011-142539
Title Making a Bioempire: The Indian Encounter with Bt Technology
Degree PhD
Department Science and Technology Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Halfon, Saul E. Committee Chair
Breslau, Daniel Committee Member
Fuhrman, Ellsworth R. Committee Member
Luke, Timothy W. Committee Member
  • Neoliberalism
  • Bioempire
  • Bt Technology
Date of Defense 2011-01-27
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation contributes to an understanding of the relationship between the new politicaleconomic configuration of neoliberalism and the commercialization of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton in India. Situated against an intensified agrarian crisis in India, it explores the dynamic relationship among the triad of a neoliberlizing Indian State, global neoliberal regimes and transnational corporations. This study shows that Bt technology and the neoliberal order were internally connected in a system of power relations that I call ‘bioempire’. Examining the dynamic of the making of a bioempire—how it emerged, how it was contested, and how it was stabilized—I focus on four processes involved in the formation of the bioempire in India. It is through these interconnected, mutually reinforcing processes—rationalization, standardization, privatization and mobilization—that we understand the dynamic—the foundation, introduction, extension and reconfiguration—of the bioempire.

Using an approach that combines the idiom of co-production, discourse analysis, and a sociotechnical network perspective, the study explores the dynamics of the introduction of Bt technology into India from the time the Indian state embarked on a path of liberalizing its economy in the early 1990s through 2002, when the Indian government first gave approval to this transgenic crop. I focus on Bt technology as operating politically in several different registers—as a material technology, as a metaphysical device, as a discourse, and as an institution of governance—in order to show how this technology activated, and was activated by, a new political economy, new governance regimes and new forms of political struggle. The mutually reinforcing relations among varied elements—including technologies, institutions, policy instruments, regulatory regimes, and activist networks—form the heterogeneous network constituting a bioempire. The dissertation highlights that the conflicts and contradictions emerging at the interfaces of various political arenas were negotiated and reconciled in order to create a hospitable technological, institutional, political-economic and discursive space for the bioempire to emerge within India.

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