Julie Guthman is a professor of social sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research has broadly been about how neoliberal-inflected capitalism shapes the conditions of possibility for food system transformation. She has also studied the influence of California’s agrarian past on contemporary efforts to reduce pesticide use.
As a Radcliffe fellow, Guthman is writing a book that traces how the soil pathogen Verticillium dahliae gave rise to the technologies and institutions that brought the California strawberry industry success yet at the same time locked in a system of production that renders less intensive methods nearly unviable. The book will illustrate how much nonhuman actors have shaped the industrial nature of agriculture in California while also revealing the oft-overlooked obstacles to eliminating the use of highly toxic agrochemicals.
Guthman received a PhD in geography from the University of California, Berkeley. She has won four book awards, including the Frederick H. Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award from the Rural Sociological Society for Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California (University of California Press, 2004) and the ASFS Book Award for Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism (University of California Press, 2011). She is also a recipient of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society’s Excellence in Scholarship Award and of research funding from the National Science Foundation. Guthman has been a resident fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center and the University of California Humanities Research Institute. In 2017, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.