Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Erica B. Gibson

Second Advisor

David E. Simmons


In South Carolina, many farmers and homesteaders have utilized goats as an adaptive and versatile resource and component of their diversified farming operations. This thesis addresses the experiences, motivations, difficulties, and successes of people raising goats in South Carolina, in the context of sustainable agricultural practice and landscapes. Goats cohabit insecure but promising ecological, political, economic, and sociocultural landscapes with humans and other nonhuman species. These relationships can undermine and support goats as belonging in South Carolina. My participants cannot simply raise goats as a purely economic choice because they create meaningful emotional relationships with their animals. Goats can become part of landscapes due to their unique dietary preferences at the same time that South Carolina's ecology can kill goats. They also represent an economic animal that produces numerous, healthy products coming from local landscapes. However, these products are not valued in the market equally, becoming constrained to niche markets. These niche markets most often depend on people that are not considered as belonging in South Carolina. These imaginaries may limit the full participation of people in sustainable food projects but may also provide a foundation for connecting diverse groups of people, depending on how sustainable agriculture is framed and discussed. This thesis suggests that goats have the potential to connect diverse groups of people, combining cultural tradition with frameworks of sustainability, resourcefulness, and community-based ethics.

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