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Andrew Flachs

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Purdue University
Chapter Member: Indiana SSN
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About Andrew

Flachs' research focuses on the sociocultural and socioecological aspects of local and global agriculture systems. Overarching themes in Flachs' writings include the lived experiences of agricultural technologies, such as his work on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and certified organic agriculture in India; the value of local management knowledge in managing complex agroecologies, such as his research in food, heritage, and climate in the aftermath of war in the Balkans; and the socioeconomic impact of revivalist or alternative food systems, such as his work on urban farming, new American farmers, and the links between fermentation, food heritage, and the microbiome. At Purdue University, Flachs works with agricultural extension to help build community partnerships and understand how new technologies and programs serve the needs of farmers and eaters. 


Learn more about Flachs' scholarship at


How Agricultural Policies Can Support New American Farmers

  • Andrew Flachs


"An Emerging Geography of the Agrarian Question: Spatial Analysis as a Tool for Identifying the New American Agrarianism" (with Matthew Abel). Rural Sociology (2018).

Identifies the rise and fall of hotspots of new, alternative farmers across the United States from 1992 to 2012. Discusses how these hotspots are clustered around peri-urban corridors close enough to cities to sell their products but outside key factory farming or urban areas where land prices would be prohibitively expensive.

"Farmer Knowledge across the Commodification Spectrum: Rice, Cotton, and Vegetables in Telegana, India" (with Glenn Davis Stone). Journal of Agrarian Change (2018).

Describes how farmers make very different kinds of decisions about their private GM hybrid cotton, publicly bred rice varieties, and heirloom saved vegetable seeds. Explains the effect on how these technologies spread and how producers interact with these different markets.

"'Show Farmers': Transformation and Performance in Telegana, India" Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 39, no. 1 (2017).

Shows that we need to better understand the key local stakeholders who adapt development programs to the needs of the local community, and their motivations for doing so. 

"The Ox Fall down: Path-Breaking and Technology Treadmills in Indian Cotton Agriculture " (with Glenn Davis Stone). The Journal of Peasant Studies 45, no. 7 (2017): 1272-1296.

Shows that Indian GM cotton farmers are increasingly planting their fields denser. Explains that this change in planting density sets off a wave of related changes in agricultural technology, the most important of which is an increase in herbicide use that incentivizes new but currently illegal GM herbicide tolerant cotton seeds. 

"Mapping Knowledge: GIS as a Tool for Spatial Modeling of Patterns of Warangal Cotton Seed Popularity and Farmer Decision-Making" (with Glenn Davis Stone and Christopher Shaffer). Human Ecology 45, no. 2 (2017): 143-159.

Analyzes a decade of Indian farmer GM cotton seed choices. Shows that farmers are statistically less likely to plant a seed that they have planted before and that there is no relationship between a farmer's yield and the seed they plant in the following year. Demonstrates that the only predictive factor for a given farmer's choice is the sheer presence of that seed in the farmer's nearest neighbor's field.

"The Economic Botany of Organic Cotton Farms in Telegana, India" Journal of Ethnobiology 36, no. 3 (2016): 683-713.

Argues that organic cotton farms in Telangana, India are more biodiverse than GM cotton farms — not because organic agriculture is inherently biodiverse but because these programs incentivize farmers to grow a larger spread of crops than farmers working in conventional cotton markets can afford to grow.