New faculty profile: Nan Enstad explores history of global capitalism and social struggle

Nan Enstad joined the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology as a professor in January of 2020. She has been a UW–Madison faculty member since 2001, when she joined the History Department as an associate professor. She was promoted to full professor in 2009. Enstad transferred 100% of her appointment to CALS in January.

Enstad is the Buttel-Sewell Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology and serves on the governing boards of the Agroecology Program and the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. She is also the Director of the Food Studies Network and is affiliated with the History Department, the Gender and Women’s Studies Department and the Afro-American Studies Department at UW–Madison.

Enstad’s research and teaching examine the history of global capitalism and how people have lived and struggled within and against it. She has a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota and has longstanding commitments to anti-racist, labor, queer, and gender studies that inform how she approaches all subjects.

Her most recent book is Cigarettes Inc.: An Intimate History of Corporate Imperialism (Chicago, 2018), winner of the 2019 Albert J. Beveridge Award from the American Historical Association. This book shows how a new agricultural commodity, bright leaf tobacco, became the foundation of a global cigarette industry, tying the U.S. Jim Crow South to the rest of the world, particularly China.

Enstad has been the recipient of a number of grants, including from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities and currently holds a Vilas Mid-Career Investigator Award.

Her teaching focuses on food and agriculture and includes CES/SOC 222 Food, Culture, and Society, and CES/SOC 341 Labor in the Global Food System.

New projects in progress include a study of rural environmental activism in Wisconsin; a discursive comparative analysis of farmers and campesinos in the US and Mexico; and a co-authored book project on capitalist imagination and the second scientific revolution. She is co-host of a new podcast titled Collegeland that launches in January 2021.