Emily Reisman

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Santa Cruz, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9554

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Reisman, Emily L., U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research on 'Orchard Entanglements: A More-Than-Human Ethnography of Almond Growing Practice in California and Spain,' supervised by Dr. Madeleine Fairbairn

EMILY REISMAN, then a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, California received a grant in October 2017 to aid research on “Orchard Entanglements: A More-Than-Human Ethnography of Almond Growing Practice in California and Spain” supervised by Dr. Madeleine Fairbairn. This research traces the entanglements of trees, bees, waters, soils, farmers and scientists during an agricultural boom paradoxically exacerbated by socioecological precarity. During an historic drought in 2014, public outcry thrust California almond growers into the spotlight for continued expansion of water intensive orchards despite dwindling supplies. These highly profitable orchards also entice nearly every commercial beekeeper in the continental United States to pollinate the flush of blossoms, at a time when honeybee health is in decline. By contrast in Spain, the largest almond producer in the world until the mid-twentieth century, farmers continue to maintain a rainfed almond landscape with almost no irrigation or honeybee migration. A price spike provoked by California’s drought, however, has sparked an almond boom rapidly transforming Spanish production geographies and practices. California and Spain share interwoven histories of hydraulic infrastructure and agricultural intensification, as well as parallel crises of groundwater overexploitation and unstable pollinator health. Yet their cultures of almond cultivation, until now, have remained worlds apart. This project uses provocative contrasts and connectivities to theorize shifting cultures of cultivation at a time of rural transformation.


Reisman, Emily. 2022. Protecting provenance, abandoning agriculture? Heritage products, industrial ideals and the uprooting of a Spanish turrón. Journal of Rural Studies. 89: 45-53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2021.11.003