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Boundaries of the State In Us History$
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James T. Sparrow, William J. Novak, and Stephen W. Sawyer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226277646

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226277813.001.0001

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Youth as Infrastructure: 4-H and the Intimate State in 1920s Rural America

Youth as Infrastructure: 4-H and the Intimate State in 1920s Rural America

Chapter:
(p.183) Seven Youth as Infrastructure: 4-H and the Intimate State in 1920s Rural America
Source:
Boundaries of the State In Us History
Author(s):

Gabriel N. Rosenberg

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226277813.003.0007

This chapter explores the relationship of agriculture and homemaking 4-H youth clubs, a famous icon of rural American civil society, to early twentieth century state-building and rural modernization programs. Although sometimes mistaken for private, voluntary associations, the US Department of Agriculture and Cooperative Extension Service organized and administered 4-H clubs throughout America's sprawling agricultural peripheries. Through the clubs, organizers hoped to cultivate greater governing capacities and debt-financed, mechanized farming. The result was an “intimate state” in 1920s rural America in which the bodies of youth formed a vital infrastructure of governance. The intimate state allowed participants to act in lieu of formal state actors, and healthy youthful bodies advertised the bounties of future cooperation with the intimate state's agencies and allies. Attention to the intimate state demonstrates the instability and permeability of the boundary between civil society and the state, and it underscores the importance of affection, intimacy, and embodiment to the continuing operation of American state power.”

Keywords:   agriculture, intimacy, embodiment, US Department of Agriculture, civil society, state-building, modernization, infrastructure, rural

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