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Former Researcher at the Centre for Sustainability

Now based at Wageningen University, Netherlands


Katy-Anne Legun (2) (160)Katharine's main focus is on the relationship between the economy, social organization, and the environment in the food production. She is particularly interested in how people manage the tensions between modern capitalist markets and the dynamic spontaneity of environmental life. Her work has largely been on apples, and the relationships between redness, pack-houses, and retail (or trees, growers, and markets). Her approach could be described as a post-human political economy.

Katharine joined the University of Otago after completing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013, and an MA from the University of British Columbia is 2008. At Otago she taught environmental sociology and social theory, and supervised students on a range of topics related to food, markets, technologies, and the environment.

Katharine is now based in the Netherlands at Wageningen University.

Research projects

  • ARGOS Dashboard - The New Zealand Sustainability Dashboard: This project is aimed at building sustainability assessment tools for primary production. Katharine is involved with developing the social dimensions of the tool, and considering the social aspects of sustainability auditing more generally.
  • Managed apple varieties and the economies of animate, non-human life: Katharine's research looks at the emergence of managed apple varieties, or “club apples”. These are patented apple varieties that have licenses conditioning their production and sale. They are also commonly owned by a grower cooperative. Katharine is interested in the economic and ecological world that the clubs are responding to, and what they are attempting to accomplish. She also considers how the animate features of the plants, or their alive-ness, influences the ways that markets are shaped around them.

Significant Publications

Legun, Katharine (2017) “Ever-Redder Apples: How Aesthetics Shape the Biology of Markets.” In Le Heron, Campbell, Lewis and Carolan, (eds.) Biological Economies: Enactive and post-human approaches to agriculture and food. London: Routledge
Legun, Katharine (2016) “Tiny Trees for Trendy Produce: Dwarfing Technologies as Assemblage Actors in Orchard Economies.” Geoforum
Legun, Katharine (2015) “Club apples: a biology of markets built on the social life of variety.” Economy and Society 44(2): 293-315. DOI:10.1080/03085147.2015.1013743
Legun, Katharine and Michael Meyerfield Bell (2014) “Environmental Sociology” in Javier Trevino (ed) Social Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE
Legun, Katharine (2011) “Cultivating Institutions: Organic Agriculture and Integrative Economic Choice.” Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal, 24(5), 455-468. DOI: 10.1080/08941920903002560

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