STS Seminar Series examines agribusiness, activists and their shared politics of the future, Nov. 5

Kelly Bronson
Kelly Bronson

The fifth instalment of this year’s Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies (STS) takes place on Nov. 5 and features Kelly Bronson, a professor in the School of Sociological & Anthropological Studies at the University of Ottawa.

Now in its 26th year, the series has hosted hundreds experts from across Canada and around the world presenting on a wide range of STS-related topics. The talks are free and open to the public, and STS majors are especially encouraged to attend. Refreshments are provided.

The Nov. 5 seminar, titled “Data-driven: Agribusiness, activists and their shared politics of the future,” will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in 203 Bethune College (Norman’s).

Innovations in big data and intelligent machines for mining them are expected to revolutionize food production. In this talk, Bronson will argue that there exists a widely shared, uninterrogated “imaginary” of data capable of driving social change unmediated by human intervention. This data-driven imaginary has social force – it helps gather support for the funding of technological research programs conducted by corporations and by activist scientists, and it is used to sell commercial tools to farmers. But it does something more: it depoliticizes big agricultural data by “invisibilizing” the human decision-making that is structuring the collection and use of agricultural big data, with negative consequences for the realization of diversity and equity in food systems.

This talk, and the larger book project it draws from, stands as Bronson’s attempt to make visible this imaginary, to describe its social force but also to undo some of that force by exposing the entanglement of personal history, economic interest, and technical and societal goals in the production of agricultural big data and their infrastructures.

Here’s a look at the rest of the STS Seminar Series lineup for Fall 2019:

Nov. 19: Kate Henne (University of Waterloo), “Grey Matters: Imagining Traumatic Brain Injury Through the Lens of Sex Difference”

Dec. 3: John McLevey (University of Waterloo), “Democracies in Crisis? Online Deception, Disinformation and Political Polarization in Comparative Perspective”

Unless otherwise specified, all seminars in this series will take place on Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in 203 Bethune College (Norman’s).

Further details will appear in YFile prior to each talk, and the lineup for Winter 2019 will be released at a later date. This series is sponsored by York University’s Department of Science & Technology Studies, Faculty of Science, and co-ordinated by members of the department. For more information about the Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies, contact Professor Conor Douglas at or visit