Venus Bivar

Assistant Professor of History​
PhD, University of Chicago
MA, University of Chicago
BA, University of British Columbia
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1062
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    ​Venus Bivar pursues research and teaching in three broad fields: European, economic, and environmental history. Her interests include the history of capitalism, agriculture and international trade, and the human history of climate change.

    Her first book, Organic Resistance: The Struggle Over Industrial Farming in Postwar France (UNC Press 2018), was awarded the J. Russell Major Prize from the American Historical Association, as well as an honorable mention for the Society for French Historical Studies' Pinkney Prize, and was shortlisted for the Canadian Historical Association's Wallace K. Ferguson Prize. She is currently working on two new projects. The first, Falling for Growth, examines the influence of economic thought on anthropogenic climate change, while the second, Unsafe Harbour, draws on the tools of political ecology to analyse the history of migration and port development in modern Marseille.
     

    Selected Publications

    Books

    Organic Resistance: The Struggle Over Industrial Farming in Postwar France (UNC Press, 2018).

    Winner of the Russell Major Prize for best book in French history from the American Historical Association.
    Honorable mention for the Society for French Historical Studies' David H. Pinkney Prize for best book in French history.
    Shortlisted for the Canadian Historical Association's Wallace K. Ferguson Prize for best book in a field other than Canadian history.

    There are two surprises in Organic Resistance. First, French farming is not the bastion of gastronomic refinement that the world tends to believe that it is. And the origins of organic farming do not lie with the radical left, but instead with the fascist right. From its capitalist successes to the politically suspect origins of its turn to terroir, French farming is not at all what it seems. Organic Resistance delves into the intersecting narratives of economic modernization, the birth of organic farming, the development of a strong agricultural protest movement, and the rise of environmentalism. This fresh perspective, grounded in as-yet unexplored archives, provides an antidote to recent works that have focused on the gastronomy, tourism and leisure associated with the French countryside while ignoring the weight of big agriculture in the national economy and its role in shaping rural life and landscapes.

     

    Peer-Reviewed Articles

    Guest co-editor of special issue of Modern and Contemporary France titled "French Industrial Food and its Critics" (expected publication in autumn 2019). 

    "Agricultural High Modernism and Land Reform in Postwar France," Agricultural History (scheduled for publication in autumn 2019).

    "Manufacturing a Multifunctional Countryside: Operational Landscapes, Urban Desire, and the French State, 1945-1976," French Politics, Culture & Society 36, no. 2 (Summer 2018): 53-76.

    "History for Sale: The International Art Market and the Nation State," International Journal of Cultural Property, vol. 13, no. 3 (2006): 259-283.

    Book Chapters

    "La modernisation agricole française d’après 1945 : politiques et contestations," in Ed. Christophe Bonneuil. Une Autre histoire des modernisations agricoles au XXe siècle (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2019).
     
    "Land reform, European integration, and the industrialization of agriculture in postwar France," in Ed. Kiran Klaus Patel. Fertile Ground for Europe? The History of European Integration and the Common Agricultural Policy since 1945 (Baden-Baden: Nomos 2009): 119-137.

    Recent Courses

    Slow Violence: An Introduction to Political Ecology

    The Wheels of Commerce: From Industrial Revolutions to Global Capitalism

    An Inconvenient Truth: The Human History of Climate Change

    Riots and Revolution: A History of Modern France

    Barbarity and Civilisation in Modern Europe

    Liberalism and its Critics: A History of Modern Political Thought

    Money Talks: Advanced Readings in Economic History

    Writing I (Washington University Prison Education Program at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center)

    Independent studies in the history of economic thought

    Organic Resistance: The Struggle over Industrial Farming in Postwar France

    Organic Resistance: The Struggle over Industrial Farming in Postwar France

    France is often held up as a bastion of gastronomic refinement and as a model of artisanal agriculture and husbandry. But French farming is not at all what it seems. Countering the standard stories of gastronomy, tourism, and leisure associated with the French countryside, Venus Bivar portrays French farmers as hard-nosed businessmen preoccupied with global trade and mass production. With a twin focus on both the rise of big agriculture and the organic movement, Bivar examines the tumult of postwar rural France, a place fiercely engaged with crucial national and global developments.