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Minerals and Magic Machines: A critical approach to modern agricultural technology and its connection to world-system flows of rare earth elements

Sjøbeck Jørgensen, Niklas LU (2018) HEKM51 20181
Human Ecology
Abstract
This thesis connects agricultural technology (ag-tech) within a Danish context to a world system of production in which rare earth elements (REs) play a crucial role. These elements are essential for modern technology. By applying the concept of machine fetishism this thesis investigates how ag-tech in Denmark is fetishized through political discourse. The concept of fetishism here signifies that the socio-environmental relations on which technology relies are mystified. These relations are then investigated. Denmark’s ag-tech producers buy components and hardware from a global mar- ket with opaque supply chains. The amount of REs used is therefore uncertain, but due to their important role in modern technology and Denmark’s push for more... (More)
This thesis connects agricultural technology (ag-tech) within a Danish context to a world system of production in which rare earth elements (REs) play a crucial role. These elements are essential for modern technology. By applying the concept of machine fetishism this thesis investigates how ag-tech in Denmark is fetishized through political discourse. The concept of fetishism here signifies that the socio-environmental relations on which technology relies are mystified. These relations are then investigated. Denmark’s ag-tech producers buy components and hardware from a global mar- ket with opaque supply chains. The amount of REs used is therefore uncertain, but due to their important role in modern technology and Denmark’s push for more ag-tech, they are critically reviewed. RE-mining causes severe socio-environmental harm, especially in China, which produces 90% of the global supply. Using world-system theory, this thesis shows how China has established structures of unequal exchange. By doing so, China has risen to dominate the world system of rare earth and technology production. Due to China’s dominance of REs and increasing global demand, new mining initiatives in Greenland, in the sea, and on the moon are being planned. It is concluded that the Danish belief in technology’s potential reflects machine fetishism and that fetishism mys- tifies the environmental impact of technology elsewhere. It is therefore important that actions are taken to ensure sustainably produced technology or to decrease the demand of rare earths alto- gether. It is important since technology have consequences somewhere and for someone - if not in China, then perhaps in Greenland or in the sea. (Less)
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author
Sjøbeck Jørgensen, Niklas LU
supervisor
organization
course
HEKM51 20181
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Technology, ag-tech, agriculture, Denmark, rare earths, extractivism, mining, China, discourse, reductionism, politics, nature, machines, fetishism, world system, supply chain, critical realism
language
English
id
8944302
date added to LUP
2018-12-21 11:04:28
date last changed
2018-12-21 11:04:28
@misc{8944302,
  abstract     = {This thesis connects agricultural technology (ag-tech) within a Danish context to a world system of production in which rare earth elements (REs) play a crucial role. These elements are essential for modern technology. By applying the concept of machine fetishism this thesis investigates how ag-tech in Denmark is fetishized through political discourse. The concept of fetishism here signifies that the socio-environmental relations on which technology relies are mystified. These relations are then investigated. Denmark’s ag-tech producers buy components and hardware from a global mar- ket with opaque supply chains. The amount of REs used is therefore uncertain, but due to their important role in modern technology and Denmark’s push for more ag-tech, they are critically reviewed. RE-mining causes severe socio-environmental harm, especially in China, which produces 90% of the global supply. Using world-system theory, this thesis shows how China has established structures of unequal exchange. By doing so, China has risen to dominate the world system of rare earth and technology production. Due to China’s dominance of REs and increasing global demand, new mining initiatives in Greenland, in the sea, and on the moon are being planned. It is concluded that the Danish belief in technology’s potential reflects machine fetishism and that fetishism mys- tifies the environmental impact of technology elsewhere. It is therefore important that actions are taken to ensure sustainably produced technology or to decrease the demand of rare earths alto- gether. It is important since technology have consequences somewhere and for someone - if not in China, then perhaps in Greenland or in the sea.},
  author       = {Sjøbeck Jørgensen, Niklas},
  keyword      = {Technology,ag-tech,agriculture,Denmark,rare earths,extractivism,mining,China,discourse,reductionism,politics,nature,machines,fetishism,world system,supply chain,critical realism},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Minerals and Magic Machines: A critical approach to modern agricultural technology and its connection to world-system flows of rare earth elements},
  year         = {2018},
}