Farming Inside Invisible Worlds

In the first seminar in the RSO group’s 75 Year Anniversary Seminar Series, Hugh Campbell (University of Otago) examines the political ontologies of modernist agriculture.

Organised by Rural Sociology, Rural Sociology

Wed 3 February 2021 09:00 to 10:30

Venue Online

As part of our 75 Year Anniversary Celebration, the Rural Sociology Group is running a seminar series throughout 2021 where international experts are asked to reflect on key debates in rural sociology and set a future research agenda. The series features 7 internationally renowned rural researchers speaking on a range of topics from the politics of farming, more-than-human rural sociologies, migration and farm labour, food consumption and everyday practice, and gender and agriculture. The seminar series leads up to a major symposium and celebration in September 2021.

First seminar

The first seminar (3 February, 09.00) features Professor Hugh Campbell, University of Otago, New Zealand who will present a talk titled Farming Inside Invisible Worlds: Political ontologies of modernist agriculture.


This talk examines the way in which an explicit focus on colonisation can open up new ways to understand the power of modernist farms. Using the example of colonisation in Aotearoa New Zealand, farms are revealed as agents of ontological politics: both being created by the colonisation of indigenous worlds in many parts of the globe, but then also becoming agents that enacted a new, ‘scientific’, pacified, and highly ontologically bounded modernist world. The outcome is a very specific kind of highly empowered modernist/capitalist farming, locked into ‘farming inside invisible worlds’. The story of farming in Aotearoa New Zealand from colonisation to the present day reveals both the enormous colonising powers of modernist/capitalist farming, but also the inevitable fractures, overflows and contests that signal its inevitable demise.