The visible land: Agricultural economics, US export agriculture, and international development, 1918–1965

Paul Burnett, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This dissertation is a study of agricultural economics from its inauguration as a discipline in the United States after World War I until the mid-1960s. Its central focus is the career of an influential agricultural economist from the University of Chicago, Theodore W. Schultz, and the migration of New Deal economists from advisory positions with the US government to international agencies, private foundations and associations after World War II. Their science was mired in political tensions between economic classes, cultures, and sections of the United States. Although most hoped to achieve intellectual freedom in order to perform their work, others recognized that their work was political by definition. What began as agricultural economists' efforts to bring American farm production into line with consumption evolved into the thorny management of international development efforts in the 1950s and 1960s. Their success in these endeavors primarily depended on the harmony of their advice as economists with the interests of powerful actors in organized agriculture, agribusiness, and Congress. Their resistance and accommodation to this role raise interesting questions for domestic farm policy, international development policy, and the politics of expert knowledge.

Subject Area

Biographies|American history|Agricultural economics|Economic history|Science history

Recommended Citation

Burnett, Paul, "The visible land: Agricultural economics, US export agriculture, and international development, 1918–1965" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3345912.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3345912

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