Development interventions introducing new organisms, technologies, and understandings can be both life-giving and death-dealing in their impacts upon cultural and ecological systems, as well as spawning reactions revitalising moribund practices, prehensions, products and potentialities.
Development has held the promise of enhancing the life prospects of peoples whose living conditions have been judged by governments, bilateral agencies and multilateral organisations as substandard. One developmental strategy has been the introduction of new forms of life (varieties, species) and modes of cultivating/exploiting/marketing them to intensify production and produce new livelihoods. However, such introductions have also brought about the death of endemic species, traditional crop varieties, and other local forms of life, livelihood, and understanding. This panel seeks papers that analyse the social and ecological consequences of such introductions in fishing (e.g. aquafarming of introduced fish and other marine/riverine/lacustrine products such as shrimp and seaweed), agriculture (e.g. miracle rice varieties and the new inputs they require, cash crops such as rubber, oil palm, cocoa, and others), infrastructure (e.g. housing types), technology (e.g. harvesting and transport machinery and marketing channels) and other sectors and domains. Papers may concentrate not only on the trajectory of impacts and the transformations they have effected, both life-giving and death-dealing, but also upon how the impacts of such innovations have also resulted in revitalisation and retraditionalisation of objects (e.g. rice varieties), institutions and usages (e.g. the rise of community resource management, food sovereignty, heritagisation, tangible and intangible, of products and practices), as well as the more encompassing transformation of cultural context these and analogous reactions imply. Papers are invited that cover any context experiencing such dynamics, whether rural or urban, local, regional or global.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Money to burn?: revitalisation and experimentation in contemporary Aboriginal fire management
In recent decades, Aboriginal peoples have increasingly become reengaged in forms of bushfire management in northern and southern Australia. This paper reflects on discursive framings around two engagements to generate insights into their imaginaries of development.
In recent decades, Aboriginal peoples have increasingly become reengaged in forms of bushfire management in both northern and southern Australia. The economic relationships underlying these engagements with Country are diverse and fluid, with no one model yet becoming the norm. But while Aboriginal peoples engaged in bushfire management may sometimes be acting as employees of settler state agencies, or employees of Aboriginal organisations, or private contractors, these realities do not well explain how those involved imagine the immediate and longer-term meaning of their work. Drawing on fieldwork in southeast Australia and the Northern Territory, this paper reflects on the discursive framings placed around Aboriginal bushfire management initiatives, focusing in particular on ideas of revitalisation, restoration and experimentation. To what extent does the recent intensification of Aboriginal bushfire management initiatives in Australia, often framed as a 'return,' also involve the return or revival of familiar imaginaries of economic and social development?
'No buffalo!': work at stake in Nepal's transformation to 'modernity'
A year-long family conflict over keeping buffalo demonstrates exactly the ways in which development as discourse has resulted in a loss of control over particular forms of work in Nepal, with a possible future crisis of identity and of place for an older generation of Nepali men and women.
In Amdanda, a small Bahun hamlet in West Nepal, caste and gendered labouring hierarchies still underpin village life, however, their contemporary forms are further shaped by education, migration and 'development'. They are also transformed and/or are under threat from 'modern' economics and global discourse. Drawing on ethnographic material that describes a year-long family conflict over keeping buffalo, I demonstrate exactly the ways in which development as discourse is penetrating penetrates and transforming local processes, with a possible future crisis of identity and of place for an older generation of Nepali men and women.
In village Nepal human-buffalo relationships hold particular meaning for the way groups of people relate to each other, to development, and to the environment. They also reveal key relationships and practices that show a society on the cusp of gendered, generational and environmental change, and therefore, future uncertainty and potential crisis. I argue that in the conflicts over keeping buffalo; in the discursive associations with, or a distancing from buffalo, work is at stake. The greatest problem faced by villagers is the loss of control over particular forms of work. In the face of change then, the big question for villagers is, if your practical activities cease to exist how do you reconceptualise yourself as a person?
Oil palm, cocoa and socio-cultural change in PNG and Indonesia
Cocoa and then oil palm have been adopted by the Nakanai of PNG with different consequences. The former led to few changes in socio-cultural behaviours while the latter has brought drastic changes. Comparison is made with the impact of cash crops elsewhere in PNG and in Indonesia.
The Maututu Nakanai are a matrilineal people on the north coast of New Britain, PNG who largely generated their own cocoa cash economy in the 1960s and were then introduced to oil palm production in the 1980s. Though economic impacts have been similar the two crops have had vastly different impacts on the politics, society and culture of village society. This paper examines the modes in which these crops were introduced and are managed, and the roles of government and estate companies in their development. While the local environment, lineage system and village political systems were largely maintained through the cocoa era the replacement of much of that cocoa and the expansion of cash cropping under oil palm has transformed the nature of land ownership, lineage corporality, village and clan leadership and ethnic identity. The paper will compare these processes with cash crop transformations under cocoa in the Gazelle Peninsular of PNG and under oil palm and cocoa in the islands of Kalimantan and Sulawesi in Indonesia
Dismissing development across West and East Timor
Frictions between groups in an international development project cannot easily integrate cultural, economic and political divisions as well as legacies of colonialism and war.
Notions of upward linear development as part of the 'global project of modernity' are challenged by academics (inter alia: Ferguson 1995; Tsing 2005; Li 2007; Bulloch 2017) and the people who are targets of national and international development projects. I present a case study based on fieldwork in West Timor, Indonesia, which will exemplify some of the 'frictions' faced by local groups engaged in an international development project.
The project was intended to unite West and East Timor through cultural exchange and the construction of two museums in both locations. The inter-linkage was to be mediated through the shared material culture of weaving, involving NGOs from the two countries, facilitated by a Dutch museum.
The project's planned trajectory was hampered by conflicting expectations, excessive bureaucratic requirements, disparity in the political balance of organisations involved and Dutch, Indonesian and East Timorese historical legacies of colonialism and war.
Fishy business: how introduction of an invasive species initiated and then reversed migrant dominance at Lindu, Central Sulawesi (Indonesia)
The introduction of Mozambique tilapia into Lake Lindu initially allowed migrant Bugis fishers to gain socioeconomic dominance at Lindu, but their depletion of the fish allowed the Indigenous Lindu people to reassert control by reformulating their adat as a community resource management system.
Among the development interventions on which the Indonesian government embarked in its first decade of independence was a program of dumping fish spawn of the usually pond-cultivated species Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) into a numerous lakes across Indonesia. This paper traces the chain of consequences across decades of this fish's introduction in Lake Lindu in highland Central Sulawesi. Not only did this invasive species destroy all endemic piscine species, it also did not initially provide enhanced livelihood opportunities to the Indigenous Lindu people nor increased protein to neighbouring montane peoples, as the Fisheries Department had intended. Instead, Bugis migrants, IDPs from sectarian conflict in South and Central Sulawesi in the 1950s, used their gill nets to intensify harvesting of the species and established a fish marketing system to the Palu Valley and beyond by recruiting kin and clients from their homeland through chain migration. However, when the Bugis depleted the stock of tilapia through using gill nets with ever smaller mesh size, the Indigenous Lindu people struck back, once the lake had been reseeded with tilapia, by forcing Bugis to subscribe to customary ombo restrictions on fishing as part of their reassertion of control of the lake. In addition, the Indigenous Lindu customary council has used their newfound role as community resource managers to gain acknowledgement as co-managers of the surrounding national park through community conservation agreements and thereby control in-migration to the Lindu plain and reverse the socioeconomic dominance of the migrants.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.