Alyssa Paredes is assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a socio-cultural anthropologist with research interests in the human, environmental, and metabolic infrastructures of transnational trade. She uses multi-sited, multi-scalar, and multi-lingual methods to carry out immersive and socially engaged fieldwork in the Philippines and Japan. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology with distinction from Yale University.
Dr. Paredes’ first book project, Plantation Peripheries: The Multiple Makings of Asia’s Banana Republic, tracks the dramatic shifts that occur between the Philippine region of Mindanao, where export bananas are among the most resource-intensive of all agricultural industries, to Japanese urban centers, where they are ubiquitous items that sell for cheap. Her work identifies the conventions of crop science, agrochemical regulation, market segmentation techniques, and food standards as arenas where actors contend over the commodity chain’s production calculus. In chronicling how local actors reinsert themselves into the very calculations that efface them, she ties together approaches in environmental and economic anthropology, science and technology studies, human geography, and critical food studies. More information on her research, publications, and teaching can be viewed on her website.
At the University of Michigan, Dr. Paredes aspires to produce and support scholarship that welcomes marginalized voices into intellectual circulation, while engaging the personal interests and concerns of diverse groups of student learners. As a native of Metro Manila, she is also interested in the university’s historical ties to the U.S. colonial administration in the Philippines and she plans to explore the intersections between zoological expeditions, ethnological photography, and the civilizational endeavor through archival research.
Dr. Paredes welcomes opportunities to get to know students and scholars with related interests.
· food and agriculture
· resource extractive industries
· commodity chains
· civil society
· transnational Asia
Selected Awards and Grants:
· National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant
· Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship
· Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
· Japan Foundation Doctoral Fellowship Program
· 2018 Robert M. Netting Paper Prize, American Anthropological Association Culture and Agriculture Section
· 2018 Christine Wilson Paper Prize, American Anthropological Association Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
Highlighted Work and Publications
1. Experimental Science for the "Bananapocalypse": Counter Politics in the Plantationocene
The plantation has become a landscape of political impossibility. Its industrial modes of production and scientific management pose existential threats to local lifeways, stymie social justice movements, and unleash persistent ecological harms. This article argues that a renewed scientific sensibility offers a way to expand local strategies for transformative political praxis in the face of other political constraints. It introduces the notion of ‘science-in-vivo’, a method of experimentation that has emerged in the context of Philippine banana plantations ravaged by the ‘incurable’ fungal disease Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race Four, also known as Panama Disease. Literally ‘science within the living body’, the method combines secular and non-secular thought, and gathers human, nonhuman, and extrahuman forces in ways that break down some of the hegemonic antagonisms that define plantation life. It was inspired, originally, by a series of God-given dreams about microbes in the forests of southern Mindanao.
More Info: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00141844.2021.1919172
2. Weedy Activism: Women, Plants, and the Genetic Pollution of Urban Japan
Along the ports of Japan, civilians have made a peculiar discovery: in a country where genetically modified (GM) crop cultivation is prohibited, wild canola weeds flourishing in the cracks of sidewalks are exhibiting the GM trait of herbicide resistance to Monsanto's infamous glyphosate. Able to enter the archipelagic country via unregulated channels and to cross-pollinate with locally grown crops, the weeds threaten to make inroads into the food system in ways unbeknownst to human actors. Among the most vocal of groups responding to this urban ecological threat are Japanese women and mothers involved in consumer co-operative systems. This article documents the emergence of their activism to demonstrate how situated and transformative political action is key to the political ecological study of human-plant encounters. It does so by interrogating the notion of weedy activism as a way to see plants not only as the object of political action, but also as a conceptual heuristic for understanding the kinds of political subjects that emerge in interaction with local environments.
More Info: https://journals.librarypublishing.arizona.edu/jpe/article/id/2299/
3. Chemical Cocktails Defy Pathogens and Regulatory Paradigms
A piece for the collective digital environmental humanities project, Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Anthropocene, curated and edited by Anna L. Tsing, Jennifer Deger, Alder Keleman-Saxena, and Feifei Zhao.
More Info: https://feralatlas.supdigital.org/poster/chemical-cocktails-defy-pathogens-and-regulatory-paradigms