Mel Ford


I am a first year graduate student interested in agricultural futures, spatial transitions of the farm, ecological and environmental design, and climate change. I hold a B.S. in Anthropology and a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of California, Riverside where I cultivated research interests in agriculture and the environment, broadly, from research with the Downtown Riverside Farmers Market and the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

At Rice my project focuses on the future of farming and food in Japan after the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear disaster. I utilize anthropological critiques of nature, environment, and ecological design to question how radiation and disaster trouble notions of nature, natural disaster, agriculture, and food consumption in a potential post-nuclear agroscape. I intend to follow the organic movement in Fukushima prefecture to understand how local knowledge-practices and notions of cultivation are challenged by numerical and statistical valuing of radiation, as well as challenge the conceptual frameworks for “safe” and “healthy” food. I am also interested in alternative spaces for agriculture that have emerged since the disaster, such as indoor vertical agriculture warehouses that utilize artificial light, hydroponic practices, and strict engineering and scientific methods to cultivate food deemed “healthy,” “clean,” and “sustainable” for human consumption and the environment.