Liz Pickard

Ph.D. Candidate, Development Sociology

  • Research focus: Political economy, finance, land
  • Hometown: Syracuse, New York
  • College attended and degree earned: Syracuse University, MS Food Studies
  • Fun fact: I play traditional Appalachian string band music with a band called John Brown's Dream. We weave musical performance and history to tell stories of multi-racial struggles against colonialism and racism.

What are the big challenges you want to tackle in the world?

My thesis research sheds light on the extent to which social class and access to inherited wealth underwrites the success of the beginning farmers movement in the U.S. Based on qualitative research and my own experiences as a queer, working class, beginning farmer, this study demonstrates how socio-spatial proximity to financial and symbolic capital shapes the landscape of class struggle and agrarian change in the Hudson Valley region of Upstate New York. My goal is to disrupt the Jeffersonian myths that prop up the beginning farmers movement, and to call attention to the profound racialized and class-based inequalities for poor and working class farmers, especially Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and immigrant beginning farmers. I plan to continue to theorize, write, and practice social movement towards democratic land redistribution in the U.S. as part of my dissertation research.

What were you doing before the PhD program?

Before I began the PhD program in Development Sociology, I was completing a masters degree at Syracuse University. Before that I worked on organic farms for 12 years.

What has been the most memorable or impactful experience of your academic or professional career so far?

It's difficult to point to one singular moment that has been most influential to me since returning to academia in 2019. The two years spent completing my masters degree were marked by a campus occupation, the unexpected death of a much-loved professor, and a global pandemic. If nothing else, these experiences have taught me the importance of transforming academic spaces through the feminist practices of solidarity and care.

Connect with Liz

  • ep456 [at]