The Association for Political and Legal Anthropology (APLA) is pleased to award the 2021 APLA Book Prize in Critical Anthropology to Kregg Hetherington for his book The Government of Beans: Regulating Life in the Age of Monocrops (Duke University Press, 2020)!
The Book Prize Committee reflected on the winning book’s contributions, noting:
The Government of Beans is about the rough edges of environmental regulation, where tenuous state power and blunt governmental instruments encounter ecological destruction and social injustice. At the turn of the twenty-first century, Paraguay was undergoing dramatic economic, political, and environmental change due to a boom in the global demand for soybeans. Although the country’s massive new soy monocrop brought wealth, it also brought deforestation, biodiversity loss, rising inequality, and violence. Kregg Hetherington traces well-meaning attempts by bureaucrats and activists to regulate the destructive force of monocrops that resulted in the discovery that the tools of modern government are at best inadequate to deal with the complex harms of modern agriculture and at worst exacerbate them. The book simultaneously tells a local story of people, plants, and government; a regional story of the rise and fall of Latin America’s new left; and a story of the Anthropocene writ large, about the long-term, paradoxical consequences of destroying ecosystems in the name of human welfare.
… It questions the role of the state itself in a fresh case study of Genetically Modified soy in Paraguay. The very accessible book charts new theoretical ground, building on biopolitics to the governance of life itself.
This year’s Honorable Mention was awarded to Arzoo Osanloo for Forgiveness Work: Mercy, Law, and Victims’ Rights in Iran (Princeton University Press, 2020)!
The Committee praised Osanloo’s Forgiveness Work:
It is an exemplar of deeply theoretical insights into the law. Her reading against the grain powerfully argues that forgiveness is as much a right of victims as retribution in Iran, based on Qur’anic principles. Empathic as it is erudite, reflexive as it is innovative, the book represents the highest potential of engaged legal anthropology.
APLA would like to extend a special thank you to this year’s Prize committee for their work! This year’s committee included: Georgina Ramsay, Mark Schuller, Katherine Lemons, Ayse Parla, and Simanti Dasgupta.