Plenary Keynote Address by Jim Hightower, “America’s Most Popular Populist.”
Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Jim Hightower has been known as a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of several books, including: Eat Your Heart Out: How Food Profiteers Victimize Consumers; They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. Bon in Denison, Texas, Hightower grew up in a family of small business people, tenant farmers, and working folks. After graduating from the University of North Texas, he worked in Washington, DC as legislative aide to Sen. Ralph Yarborough of Texas. Then, he co-founded the Agribusiness Accountability Project, a public interest project to investigate corporate power in the food economy. Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times: A Report of the Agribusiness Accountability Project on the Failure of America’s Land Grant College Complex (1972) is considered as an important piece of work for rural sociologists to critically reflect on the Land Grant system. After Jim Hightower’s plenary keynote address, the RSS Sociology of Food and Agriculture Research Interest Group will organize a panel session featuring senior RSS members to discuss Hightower’s plenary address.
Plenary Session: “The ‘Diversity’ Conversation: Cultivating Understanding and Collaborations Across Historical, Spatial and Representational Divides in Rural America,” organized by the RSS Diversity Committee and RSS Race and Ethnicity Interest Group.
This session will bring together scholar-activists working within African-American, Latino, American Indian and Native Hawaiian communities and institutions in rural places to begin creating the linkages for bridging long-standing divides. Intergroup dialogues, modeled by this panel, to promote sharing, understanding, healing and ultimately collaborative action are long overdue and can lead to thoughtful streams of scholarship, pedagogy and engagement vital to respective rural communities and certainly enriching to the scholarship, pedagogical and engagement practices of the RSS overall. This approach invites a framework of collaboration that will make involvement with the RSS more attractive and appealing to non-white scholars and community activists because relationships are based on substantive interests and concerns, while at the same time encouraging RSS members to participate in and learn from venues beyond the RSS that their non-white colleagues regularly attend, and thus enriching scholarship on rural social change all told. This panel is sponsored by a generous donor institution who will help us underwrite the expense of bringing in notable individuals to serve as panelists.
Pre-Conference Mini-Conference (July 25, 2012): organized by RSS Sociology of Food and Agriculture Research Interest Group.