The University of Arizona

Development roles: contingency and performance in alternative agriculture in Telangana, India

Andrew Flachs

Abstract


Paul Richards invokes the metaphor of performance in agriculture to highlight the ways in which farmers improvise and draw on repertory knowledge to address new and unexpected problems in the field. This skillset helps farmers respond to shifting weather patterns or changing pest cycles, but it also helps farmers take advantage of new markets, technologies, and development interventions – a question of planning and context as much as improvisation in the moment. This article discusses two intervention failures and one success in Telangana cotton agriculture, arguing that such agricultural interventions succeed when farmers can align development performances with their own visions of development and agricultural success. In doing so, it offers a political ecology of farmer performance on two levels. First, it brings attention to the ecological and socioeconomic factors that inspire performances and structure farmer improvisations. Second, it argues that development initiatives must recognize their efforts as embedded within local agricultural planning and contingent on local calculations of social capital. In two ultimately unsuccessful interventions, farmers withdrew from programs that required investments of time and agricultural methods but did not underwrite important social and agricultural vulnerabilities identified by participants. In one successful intervention, farmers found that an NGO's willingness to respond to their agricultural needs and provide a stage for the cultivation of a local celebrity more than compensated for the new demands of non-certified organic agriculture. In a rural Indian context, where farming is a moral as well as agricultural process, the performance of a development identity is an integral part of performances and plans that guide farmer decision-making. Because these performances create a knowledge that cannot be separated from actors, roles, and stages present, these contingent performances ultimately have lasting impacts on the agrarian landscape.

Key Words:  India, alternative agriculture, performance, knowledge


Full Text:

PDF

References


Agrawal, A. 2005a. Environmentality: technologies of government and the making of subjects. Durham: Duke University Press.

Agrawal, A. 2005b. Environmentality: community, intimate government, and the making of environmental subjects in Kumaon, India. Current Anthropology 46(2): 161–190.

Agrawal, A. and K. Sivaramakrishnan (eds.). 2000. Agrarian environments: resources, representations, and rule in India. Durham: Duke University Press.

Alcorn, J.B. and V.M. Toledo. 2000. Resilient resource management in Mexico's forest ecosystems: the contribution of property rights. In F. Berkes, C. Folke and J. Colding (eds.). Linking social and ecological systems: management practices and social mechanisms for building resilience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bardone, E. 2013. My farm is my stage: a performance perspective on rural tourism and hospitality services in Estonia. PhD dissertation. Tartu: University of Tartu Press.

Batterbury, S.P.J. 1996. Planners or performers? Reflections on indigenous dryland farming in northern Burkina Faso. Agriculture and Human Values 13: 12-22.

Baudrillard, J. 1981. Simulacra and simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Braidotti, R. 2006. Posthuman, all too human: towards a new process ontology. Theory, Culture & Society 23(7–8): 197–208.

Brookfield, H.C. 2001. Exploring agrodiversity. New York: Columbia University Press.

Butler, J. 1990. Gender trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity. 1st edition. New York: Routledge.

Desmond, E. 2013. The legitimation of risk and democracy: a case study of Bt cotton in Andhra Pradesh, India. PhD Dissertation. Cork: University College Cork.

Escobar, A. 2011 [1995]. Encountering development: the making and unmaking of the third world. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Ferguson, J. 1994. The anti-politics machine: 'development,' depoliticization and bureaucratic power in Lesotho. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Flachs, A. 2016. Redefining success: the political ecology of genetically modified and organic cotton as solutions to agrarian crisis. Journal of Political Ecology 23(1): 49–70.

Flachs, A. 2017. "Show farmers": transformation and performance in Telangana, India. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 39(1): 25–34.

Forster, D., C. Andres, R. Verma, C. Zundel, M.M. Messmer and P. Mäder. 2013. Yield and economic performance of organic and conventional cotton-based farming systems – results from a field trial in India. PLoS ONE 8(12): e81039.

Freidberg, S. 2004. French beans and food scares: culture and commerce in an anxious age. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Goffman, E. 1956. The nature of deference and demeanor. American Anthropologist 58(3): 473–502.

Goffman, E. 1959. The presentation of self in everyday life. 1st edition. New York N.Y.: Anchor.

Gregson, N. and G. Rose. 2000. Taking Butler elsewhere: performativities, spatialities and subjectivities. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 18(4): 433–452.

Gupta, A. 1998. Postcolonial developments: agriculture in the making of modern India. Durham: Duke University Press.

Haraway, D. 2003. The companion species manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.

Haraway, D. 2008. When species meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Heller, A. 2018. Fistula politics: birthing injuries and the quest for continence in Niger. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Ingold, T. 2011. The perception of the environment: essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. London: Routledge.

James, E.C. 2010. Democratic insecurities: violence, trauma, and intervention in Haiti. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Latour, B. 2010. An attempt at a "compositionist manifesto". New Literary History 41(3): 471–90.

Leslie, P. and J.T. McCabe. 2013. Response diversity and resilience in social-ecological systems. Current Anthropology 54(2): 114–143.

Ludden, D. 1999. An agrarian history of South Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Misra, S.S. 2009. Riding high. Down To Earth Magazine Jan 1-15: 21–28.

Netting, R.M. 1993. Smallholders, householders: farm families and the ecology of intensive, sustainable agriculture. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Ong, A. 2010. Spirits of resistance and capitalist discipline: factorywomen in Malaysia. 2nd ed. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Pandian, A. 2009. Crooked stalks: cultivating virtue in south India. Durham: Duke University Press.

Pandian, A. 2011. Ripening with the Earth: on maturity and modernity in South India. In S. Dube (ed.) Modern makeovers: a handbook of modernity in South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Pp. 157–169.

Qaim, M. 2003. Bt cotton in India: field trial results and economic projections. World Development 31(12): 2115–2127.

Quartz, J. 2010. Creative dissent with technoscience in India: the case of non‐pesticidal management (NPM) in Andra Pradesh. International Journal of Technology and Development Studies 1(1): 55–92.

Richards, P. 1989. Agriculture as a performance. In R. Chambers, A. Pacey and L.A. Thrupp (eds.). Farmer first: farmer innovation and agricultural research. Rugby: Intermediate Technology Publications. Pp. 39–42.

Richards, P. 1993. Cultivation: knowledge or performance? In M. Hobart (ed.). An anthropological critique of development: the growth of ignorance. London: Routledge. Pp. 61–78.

Sainath, P. 2013. Over 2,000 fewer farmers every day. The Hindu, 2 May.

Schieffelin, E.L. 1998. Problematizing performance. In F. Hughes-Freeland (ed.) Ritual, performance, media. New York: Routledge. Pp. 199–212.

Schön, D.A. 1983. The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Schön, D.A. 1987. Educating the reflective practitioner: toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Scott, J.C. 1998. Seeing like a state: how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Podamu, Palleku 2014. Selection of quality seeds for vegetation. Express TV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W06ingqSSsQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player.

Stengers, I. 2010. Cosmopolitics I. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Stone, G.D. 2011a. Field versus farm in Warangal: Bt cotton, higher yields, and larger questions. World Development 39(3): 387-398.

Stone, G.D. 2011b. Contradictions in the last mile: suicide, culture, and e-agriculture in rural India. Science, Technology & Human Values 36(6): 759–90.

Stone, G.D. 2014. Theme Park Farming in Japan. Fieldquestions. Blog. https://fieldquestions.com/2014/06/05/theme-park-farming-in-japan/

Stone, G.D. 2016. Towards a general theory of agricultural knowledge production: environmental, social, and didactic learning. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 38(1): 5-17.

Subramanian, A. 2009. Shorelines: space and rights in South India. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Sumberg, J.E. and C. Okali. 1997. Farmer's experiments: creating local knowledge. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Tsing, A.L. 2005. Friction: an ethnography of global connection. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Turner, V. 1970. The forest of symbols: aspects of Ndembu ritual. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Turner, V. 1980. Social dramas and stories about them. Critical Inquiry 7(1): 141–68.

Uday Kiran, R., P.K. Reddy, M. Kumara Swamy and G.S. Reddy. 2010. Analysing dynamics of crop problems by applying text analysis methods on farm advisory data of eSagu. International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering 5(2): 154–64.

Vanclay, F. and G. Enticott. 2011. The role and functioning of cultural scripts in farming and agriculture. Sociologia Ruralis 51(3): 256–271.

Vasavi, A.R. 1999. Harbingers of rain: land and life in South Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Vernant, J.-P. and M. Detienne. 1991. Cunning intelligence in Greek culture and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

West, P. 2012. From modern production to imagined primitive: the social world of coffee from Papua New Guinea. Durham: Duke University Press.

Wilken, G.C. 1987. Good farmers: traditional agricultural resource management in Mexico and Central America. Berkeley: University of California Press.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2458/v25i1.22387