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This panel considers agriculture in infrastructural terms. We explore how do infrastructures as socioeconomic, political, and technological arrangements appear in the rural and how ethnography can bring into view ways in which citizens, states and companies negotiate their obligations to each other.
This panel asks what happens if we consider some forms of agriculture in infrastructural terms? How do people understand specific assemblages of vegetation as infrastructure and how can this widen our understanding about infrastructure as a category of things, whatever their form or history? Within global development discourse infrastructure is still considered a measure of development and an assemblage that can enhance local economies and livelihoods. From mobile towers to electric grids, from water dams to pipelines and roads, infrastructure of all kinds play central role in political ideology and embody local and national dreams of modernity and progress (Anand 2017, Harvey & Knox 2015). Their presence or absence evoke feelings and discussions about citizenship, belonging, and responsibility. The growing multidisciplinary literature on infrastructure has shown that they are best understood as socioeconomic, political, and technological arrangements (Leigh Star 1999, Larkin 2013) that are simultaneously ecological and relational (Mukherjee 2020).
But how do they appear in the rural and what can they tell us about the failures and successes of agricultural projects in bringing positive social change? How is land mobilised for the creation of certain infrastructures that benefit or restrict local communities? How are new forms of agriculture built on existing agricultural systems? Whose ir/responsibility is their establishment, and in what way are they produced from or produce social, ecological, or economic failure? How might an ethnographic focus on agricultural infrastructure bring into comparative view the ways in which citizens, states, and companies negotiate their obligations to each other?