Hi all,

as part of my studies I'm exploring the multiple roles environmental discourses are engaged by different environmental movements, at a both grassroot level as well as at an institutional and policy related one. Notions of equilibrial ecologies,and the way in which human impact can be detrimental to it (and discoursively tends to be) , are in fact pervasively common in popular understandings of environmental sustainability.

In relation to such anthropogenic 'pressures', I'm striken by the complexities of the ways in which nature-culture dichotomy is discussed in these environmental narratives and particularly in how agriculture problematizes that boundary in a significant way, as much as cattle does.

Has anyone got any reference to material written on 'agricultural identities' (if such a thing exist in a non deterministic sense - with it I mean the particular way in which the cultivation of land impacts people's understanding of nature) to suggest? Of course different ways of doing agriculture represent the materialization of different understanding of culture (monocropping vs small scale horticulture), but was wondering if there is any material out there which frames that relationship in more general terms.

I would really appreciate any help! thanks, sara.

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Hi Sara, I think we might be studying some similar issue here.  

My research was carried out in southern Bolivia and asked how farmer are differentially affected by the commercialization of quinoa and the globalization of its trade (and how farmers affect quinoa commercialization), as well as the role of middlemen in domestic trade of quinoa and food security in Bolivia.

 

While researching these issues I learned of an interesting trend in a quinoa-producing region.  The farmers in this region were marketing their quinoa through a denomination of origin based on their perception of their agricultural practices as 'traditional' and 'more than organic'.  The region is unique in that the high altitude, low precipitation, cold weather, and hilly topography make the use of chemicals mostly unnecessary and the use of mechanization practically useless.  Therefore, the climatic and topographical factors are heavily influencing ag. practices, nothing really new there.  

 

What was interesting, however, is that some farmers are internalizing these practices and positioning themselves as champions of 'traditional' production of quinoa and organic production.  The denomination of origin was expressed by many with whom I spoke to be an effort to differentiate themselves from other regions' farmers, not necessarily as a means to gaining greater profit.


I think this may be a case in which the technology of agricultural practice is creating farmer identities or in which farmers are identifying themselves by their farming practices.  This isn't to say that these practices are leading to a single farmer identity, there are several farmers who either want nothing to do with the denomination of origin, or see it only as a means of finding new markets and new profits.  

 

I haven't developed this idea so much yet as it wasn't a focus of my previous research, but I expect it will be a part of my future research. I'd be interested to hear what you're working on and how our research might overlap. 

Cheers, Andrew

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