Ithaca College Prof. at Cornell Lecture: Agriculture is ‘Capitalist Racialized Patriarchy’

Ithaca College Professor Zillah Eisenstein doesn't like Ben Carson either

Zillah Eisenstein, a professor politics at Ithaca College, declared in a lecture last Friday that agriculture is “capitalist, racialized patriarchy.”

The lecture was titled “Thinking about Hetero-Racist Misogyny in ‘Agriculture'” and took place at nearby Cornell University as part of a seminar series on gender issues in the practice of agriculture.

Eisenstein also declared that if war and climate change are extinguished, then there will be “room for revolutionary agriculture.”

Though an author of 12 books with titles such as Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism and her memoir Manmade Breast Cancers, Eisenstein has never worked in or studied agriculture. The professor explained that she was speaking as part of a seminar series on women in agriculture by stating, “[m]y point here is you’re thinking agriculture and I’m thinking capitalist racialized patriarchy.”

Eisenstein also declared that if war and climate change are extinguished, then there will be “room for revolutionary agriculture.”

Update 11/10/15: The Science Media Production Center at Cornell has uploaded a video of her lecture.

Most of her lecture was devoted to the concept of intersectionality, or the idea that different forms of discrimination and oppression are interrelated and cannot be understood independently of each other. Eisenstein mostly digressed to philosophical ruminations about capitalism, racism, sexism, imperialism, neo-liberal democracy, and Marxism.

Eisenstein said after being invited to give the lecture, she began thinking about the topic of agriculture by first asking what is intellectually and politically “invisible” in agriculture, and then positing the question of what happens to the “notion of gender” in different agricultural sectors.

“The idea here is gender… can’t and doesn’t stay static, and yet of course it does,” Eisenstein said. “[T]he whole notion of the sexual division of labor that is both implied in the concept of agriculture and also stands outside it.” A significant portion of Eisenstein’s lecture contained such contradictions in terms, which the professor suggested would aid one in analyzing agriculture.

“The notion again [is] of a society, of a world system, of a global economy that talks about what is produced, and talks so much less about what is silently reproduced,” she said.

From there, Eisenstein began to speak more about capitalism and her own political theories, lamenting in particular about how “politics is defined by your position on capitalism [and] never about bodies,” and about the United States’ “fascist democracy.” She turned her critique towards the patriarchy, which she said makes race, gender, and sex invisible to those who regularly practice and study agriculture. Eisenstein said this is the case because the patriarchy is “the flipping of reality [and the] silencing and making invisible particularly women of color.”

Eisenstein challenged the audience to “invert the false universality” of topics such as agriculture and capitalism, and instead focus on more specific ideas, like those intersecting race, gender, and sex. She expressed her dissatisfaction with the Pope on this front for his focus on economic inequality, which she says has the effect of ignoring gender and racial inequalities.

According to Eisenstein, because women are on average poorer than men, the real problem society faces is not the “universal” economic inequality but the “specific” gender inequality. Later, the professor suggested that rather than thinking in universal terms, as man has for most of its modern intellectual history, it would be better to think in “polyversal” terms.

Toward the end of the lecture, after expounding on the differences between “same” and “similar,” Eisenstein summarily declared: “Equality that is the same—I don’t want it.”

During the ensuing Q&A session, Eisenstein fielded several questions about her views on class struggle, the parallels between the patriarchy’s dominance of the female body and of agriculture, and about encouraging more people of color to study agriculture and food science. In response to some of these questions, Eisenstein delved into even further-removed digressions, such as comparing Guantanamo Bay to Nazi concentration camps. The professor also took shots at the Republican Party throughout her speech, saying towards the end that she prefers working with progressive people of color and “really wouldn’t care to have [Dr. Ben] Carson on my team”.

Eisenstein’s lecture was part of a seminar series sponsored by AWARE (Advancing Women in Agriculture through Research and Education), which is an initiative of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

This article was originally published by the author on Campus Reform.

25 Comments on Ithaca College Prof. at Cornell Lecture: Agriculture is ‘Capitalist Racialized Patriarchy’

  1. Bib Ag is certainly guilty of something, aren’t we all? But it does feed billions.

  2. Grumpy Old Man // October 29, 2015 at 8:10 pm //

    Good grief. I borrowed money to send my daughter to Ithaca College. It was good for her, but I certainly hate to think I subsidized such prattle.

    • Casey Breznick // October 29, 2015 at 11:03 pm //


      Interestingly enough, the next day I saw Ms. Eisenstein in the Ithaca Commons at a Black Lives Matter protest. She was holding the latest edition of the iPhone.

  3. Horatio Felatio // October 29, 2015 at 8:45 pm //

    Citing “racism” and “patriarchy” in lieu of simply stating that you disagree with certain inherencies is lazy and fundamentally strips those words of their meaning. If you want to coney a point, you might consider not veiling that point with nonsensical sensationalist tropes.

  4. Dustoffmukilteo925 // November 5, 2015 at 3:25 pm //

    My God. Do they really employ and pay this loon of a woman.

  5. The good side of discovering that people like this pass as educators in today’s universities is the realization that the inability to pay to attend such institutions is beneficial to one’s education.

  6. This is where your tax dollars go.

  7. Did she do any research at all on women in agriculture? And of course it is capitalist. How else can a farmer make money?

  8. That is some seriously impressive weapons grade stupidity.

  9. Absurd dribble. My daughter attended a summer program at Ithaca. We were considering Ithaca. Not anymore.

  10. Her comments read like a garbage text generator. Plug in a topic, a few keywords and it generates pages of garbage, meaningless buzzword laden BS.

  11. Lance mcdaniel // November 7, 2015 at 6:25 pm //

    I have often thought what would be an ironic definition of psycho-babble – thank you for helping me – this article much like her talk could have easily said “blah, blah, blah – lather rinse repeat”

  12. I guess she’s set for life for research/lecture topics….

    Thinking about Hetero-Racist Misogyny in ‘Agriculture’”
    Thinking about Hetero-Racist Misogyny in ‘Aviation’”
    Thinking about Hetero-Racist Misogyny in ‘Blimp Design’”
    Thinking about Hetero-Racist Misogyny in ‘Bulimia Prevention’”
    Thinking about Hetero-Racist Misogyny in ‘Cat Breeding’”
    Thinking about Hetero-Racist Misogyny in ‘Catalytic Engineering’”
    Thinking about Hetero-Racist Misogyny in ‘Cauterization Technology’”

  13. How nice, how special, to be a perfesser and have your own little podium from which you can trash whom you please. In the interests of Fairness and Diversity and Equality, no doubt Ms. Eisenstein will be arranging for a lecture in which farmers state their opinions of Academia Nuts and their deleterious effect on society.


    I don’t mind so much that the precious darling is in an Ivory Tower, but I do wish someone would bar the door from the outside.

  14. Bill J. Canada // November 8, 2015 at 11:10 am //

    Cornell was once a fine respected university unfortunately that is no longer true. The same however can be said of many of our universities. Now as to her subject of farming, something she has undoubtedly never done unless she considers wandering through he supermarket produce isle farming.I will use my personal experience. I have a multi ethnic family. Notice I said ethnic, why is that? Because I am not trying to separate people though the use of racial That is a tactic used by left wing and socialist activists. We farm, we work hard to make money, Yes we are capitalist. If not to make a few buck why bother to get up at the crack of dawn and work your ass off till dark or later? Now my Black, White, Asian and Hispanic family get along very well. I wonder just what she and others that live in a make believe world would do if farmers stopped farming besides starve. Probably in a Stalinist fashion she would send folks out with guns to force people to farm. Sorry folks that is how socialists and communists do business. The woman has not a clue as to what she speaks and has no business in a academic setting then again many of our finest universities are no longer academic setting they are just institutes of higher indoctrination and of no value whatsoever to America.

  15. And people wonder why college has become so expensive and worthless at the same time.

  16. Jesus, 5 minutes in and I don’t know how much further I can make it before I put my head in the oven. This lunatic gets paid handsomely for this nonsense I assume? Also, she appears to have invented her own definition of the singularity.

  17. If you think her speech was gibberish, her web site will make your head explode:
    In fairness, I have to say academicians have developed their language, grammar, and syntax, just to let you know you’re not at their level. The more words they create ending with “-ize” and “-ity”, the more money they make.

  18. I am an Ithaca Alum I had to take one of her pathetic classes. Not only is she guilty of weapons grade stupidity, she use you be involved with a lawyer(and law partner) at a prominent law firm in Tompkins County. In her class, she even mentioned him as her daughter’s father. Also, some of the co-eds in the class told us that the clothes and jewelry were expensive.
    The one thing I remember most was the litany of sorry excuses that she made when the Berlin Wall fell and the true nature of Marxism was on full display. That was fun to watch.

  19. It must be fun to have a profession that pays so well for applying jargon to a subject about which kne knows nothing.

  20. Seriously!! Based on this artice, it seems clear that Prof Eisenstein needs to be seen and possibly treated by a competent Psychiatrist before she hurts herself on one of the students.

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