This project examines market and landscape production from the “Wild West” to cap-and-trade. Widespread ecological and social violence on Western American rangelands prompted cattle ranchers and expert bureaucrats within the federal government to cooperate to transform (or “fix”) the range cattle economy and its ecological impact. Cattle producers laid the groundwork for federal regulation through widespread murder of itinerant sheep herders and sheep. With the human and animal populations suitably reduced, bureaucrats and ranchers invented and implemented new transaction rules and technologies, such as leases and advisory boards, to make the broken free market of the open range better resemble the free market of their imaginations. Different organized parties have continued trying to fix beef and cattle markets for environmental and social goals ever since. My other case studies include: the corporate organization of meatpacking, consumer beef prices, live cattle futures contracts, Pacific Rim beef-trade wars, and carbon ranching.
How do economic and ecological ideas and technologies drive land use and environmental change?
1. To develop a historical narrative of the United States grazing beef industry that link local environmental change to transnational social, political, economic, and scientific forces. 2. To describe the way capitalist institutions and organizations determine economic and land-use activity by Western American cattle ranchers. 3. To identify and describe different varieties of market-land interaction within capitalism specific to place and time.
Timothy A. Paulson, “Invisible Hooves: Markets and the Environment in the History of American and Transnational Cattle Ranching, 1867-2017,” University of California, Santa Barbara, PhD Dissertation, 2017.