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Sophia Doyle (she/her)

Doctoral Fellow


Campus Am Neuen Palais
Am Neuen Palais 10
Building 1, Room 0.15
14469 Potsdam


by appointment only

Dissertation Project

The Cultivation of Man: tracing pedagogies of improvement in 19th century agricultural education

My PhD project analyses the rise and proliferation of scientific agriculture and its attendant industries between Western Europe and US settler state as the beginnings of a global “agro-industrial complex” that takes shape in the late 19th century, deeply bound up in US militarism, racial capitalism and empire.

Reading across educational curricula and agricultural publications of the time aimed, respectively, at rural populations in colonial Ireland and in the US, I trace how the professionalisation of agriculture was integral to the development of new methods of administration and governance of liberal nation-states operating in an increasingly globalised market. I pay particular attention to the colonial and racial imaginaries and anxieties underwriting these 19th century pedagogies of improvement to analyse how liberal education, academic research and large-scale industrialisation of farming were all bound up in the consolidation of a national and imperial project articulated against the threat of insurgency and revolutionary movement, domestic and abroad.

Through this work I wish to highlight the foundational violences, colonial continuities and ongoing imperial imperatives that lie the heart of our global agri-food system today, which continues to operate through racial and border violence and a global imperial division of labour - and which often remain obscured in political debates about “the future of farming”.



I am a researcher, writer and organiser with roots in rural Bavaria and Ireland. My research combines my MA in Postcolonial Studies at Goldsmiths College, University of London and my practical training in regenerative agriculture to think about the imperial histories and political ecologies of food and farming.

I am organised in various groups and political education collectives in Berlin and online, and am always excited to connect and collaborate across different movement, geographic and disciplinary contexts to work towards food autonomy, land access and the abolition of agro-industry as a key and necessary step in the broader struggle for abolition, decolonisation and self-determination.

Research Interests

  • Political Ecology and Economy
  •  Philosophy of Economics, Liberalism
  • Agricultural History, History of Science and Technology, History of Education
  • Euro-US imperialism and militarism & agribusiness
  • “Agroecology”, traditional foodways and soil care practices
  •  agrarian / peasant, national liberation and decolonization struggles and histories


Root and Branch Collective, 2023-present

Dimensions of Political Ecology (DOPE) Conference, University of Kentucky and online, 2021-present

London Freedom Seed Bank, 2019-2022


“Food Sovereignty & Farmer Protests: Where to now?” Workshop organised with the Root and Branch Collective at University of Maynooth. 27 April 2024.

“Community of Practice: Authoritarianism, Repression and the University as a Terrain of Struggle.” Workshop at DOPE+ Conference. Political Ecology Working Group, University of Kentucky and online. 22 February 2024.

“Land without borders, land without cages: Building coalitions across land justice, prison abolition and anti-border struggles.” Workshop at the 2023 Land Skills Fair, 22 July 2023. Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.  

“How Do Prisons and Policing Impact and Intersect with Our Struggles for Land Justice?” Panel Discussion at the 2023 Oxford Real Farming Conference, 5 January 2023. Oxford, United Kingdom.

“’Freedom is a place’ - exploring radical place-making through feminist abolitionist geography.” Workshop with Jas Wenzel at ‘Shocks, Turmoil and Transformations: Feminist Geographic Perspectives.’ Symposium Feminist Geographies. 28-30 April 2022. Berlin.

Conference Papers, Panels, Invited Talks

“(Counter)revolutionary perspectives on food and agriculture.” Panel Discussion organised with Arlo Fosburg at DOPE+ Conference. Political Ecology Working Group, University of Kentucky and online. 22 February 2024.

“Infrastructure as Method: A Metabolic Approach.” Paper presented at GAPS 2023 Postcolonial Infrastructure Conference, University of Konstanz, Germany. 18 May 2023.

“Imagining liberatory (counter)logistix.” Panel discussion at DOPE12 Conference. Political Ecology Working Group, University of Kentucky, 25 March 2022. Online.

Discussant: “Imagining and Planning for Seedy Futures.” DOPE12 Conference. Political Ecology Working Group, University of Kentucky, 21 March 2022. Online.

Discussant: “Community Seed Forum: Rural and Urban Seed Initiatives.” Seed Gathering 2021. Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme, 24 October 2021. Online.

Discussant: “Bringing Communities Together Through Seed: A Discussion and Planning Session for Community Seed Banks, Seed Libraries and Seed Initiatives Around the UK.” 2021 Oxford Real Farming Conference, 11 January 2021. Online, Oxford, United Kingdom.

“Storytelling as Political Praxis - Unsettling the Protagonist in Environmentalist Imagination and Organising.” SHSU PRSS Earth(ly) Matters Conference, 10 August 2020. Online, Sheffield, United Kingdom.

“Dreaming against the End of the World: Challenging catastrophic thinking in the contemporary environmentalist imagination.” ASLE-UK PRSS Out of the Blue Conference, 2 September 2020. Online, Sheffield, United Kingdom.



(forthcoming) “‘Saving the Knowledge Helps to Save the Seed”: Generating a Collaborative Seed Data Project in London.” Invited chapter with Katie Dow in Digital Ecologies edited collection (eds. Jonathon Turnbull, Henry Anderson Elliott and Adam Searle). Manchester University Press. 2023.