Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Keiko Tanaka

Abstract

This dissertation illuminates how phytosanitary (PS) regulations enable mango exportation from Mexico to the United States. PS regulations are technical and legal measures to prevent plant pests from proliferating or being transported to other places and are important regulatory mechanisms enabling the globalization of agriculture. My case study investigates how PS regulations enable Mexican mango exportation as an aspect of the globalization of agriculture, illustrating the consequences of PS regulations to humans and non-humans. More specifically, three research questions are posed: (1) How does the PS regulation network operate to draw distinctions between pest/non-pest, thereby enabling the export of Mexican mangos to the United States? (2) What values are associated with the PS regulation network, and what are the normative, moral, or ethical implications of the regulations? And, (3) How are the PS regulations in transition in the state of Sinaloa changing economic prospects for mango growers and packers to tap into global mango markets?

Theoretically, the analysis draws on a concept called “material politics,” which claims that politics is enacted through not only discursive measures, such as statutes, but also physical embodiment by material beings. Thus, PS regulations are conceptualized as a materially heterogeneous network that establishes boundaries between pest/non-pest, thereby connecting distinct places, such as mango orchards and consumers. The material politics concept also suggests the emergence of socio-material “ordering” effects by regulations, such as values, morals, and norms, as well as unequal economic opportunities.

Nine months of ethnographic fieldwork in Mexico, which employed in-depth interviews, (participant) observations, and documentary research, yielded the following findings: (1) PS regulations as a network of governance (re)configured the production of the commodity, “disciplining” humans and non-humans to conform to the global regulatory order; (2) in this network, non-governmental entities played critical roles, fitting squarely with the recent neoliberal political-economic orientation in Mexico; and (3) although the government’s pest eradication program could improve market chances for growers, local political-economic circumstances, including small-scale growers’ dependence on packers for marketing, still left substantial challenges for such economic prospects to materialize.

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