Leo Chu

Ph.D. Student, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

2022 to 2023
Research Fellow

Harvesting Diversity: Ecology, Agriculture, and the Remaking of Development, 1970-2010

The notion of diversity has become integral to the contemporary politics of sustainability and resilience. This research approaches the history of diversity through the confluence of agricultural development and ecological science in Southeast Asia and North America during the Cold War. I will utilize the collections of personal papers, project grants, and institutional records in the Rockefeller Archive Center, University of Wisconsin Madison, and Harvard University to elucidate the various programs the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC) participated between 1970s and the early 2000s—from the quest to diversify the Green Revolution through vegetable breeding to the promotion of homegardens as ecologically-diverse production systems, from boosting social diversity in urban agriculture to conserving diverse seeds for disaster recovery. By analyzing the AVRDC’s network, this research highlights the complexities and contradictions in the diversity discourse, and explore critical ways to re-imagine food and nature in the age of Anthropocene.