Benjamin R. Cohen


Notes from the Ground was published in paperback in 2011 (to accompany the 2009 hardback). The book examines the cultural conditions that brought agriculture and science together in nineteenth-century America. MIT published my co-edited book, Technoscience and Environmental Justice: Expert Cultures in a Grassroots Movement, also in 2011.


My current project, “Pure and Adulterated: Cheating on Nature in the Age of Manufactured Food” (under contract, University of Chicago Press) is a study of food purity, environmental change, and values of authenticity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The book uses debates about adulteration—contaminated or corrupted food—to show how confusing it was to understand what was “natural” given that new foods were manufactured in factories, not harvested from farms. Two publications offer further introductions to the project, one an academic article in Endeavour, “Analysis as Border Patrol,” the other an essay in The Appendix, “The Appearance of Being Earnest.”

June 10, 2015
“Against technocratic environmentalism,” Aeon Ideas

May 27, 2015
“How to Police Your Food” at Drexel University

April 14, 2015
“A Young Venn Heads to the Diagram Convention,” at the SCQ

March 29, 2015
“Dale Peck Reviews Einstein’s Latest,” in the Science Creative Quarterly, Vol. 1 [originally here]

March 28, 2015
“The Veggie Van” exhibit at Just Food? conference, Harvard Law School 

March 20, 2015
Essay on The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes, H-Environment Roundtable Review

March 19-21, 2015
ASEH (various sessions) in Washington 

December 16, 2014
“Best, Worst, or Only: Hanukah Film Edition,” at McSweeney’s

December 10, 2014
Final podcasts hosted here at SoundCloud for FYS 18: Ten Ways to Know Nature

[more news and reviews here]

© 2010-2015 | B.R. Cohen

Welcome. I am an assistant professor in the Engineering Studies and Environmental Studies Programs at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. (From 2005-2011, I was a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society [STS] at the University of Virginia.) Holding STS, history, and environmental studies together, my interests sit at the intersection of the histories of science, technology, and the environment, with particular attention to industrial agriculture from the 19th century to today. I’m also, as it were, a writer for a variety of non-academic forums. [more here]

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"The world is full of light and life, and the true crime is not to be interested in it." A.S. Byatt