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Accepted Paper:

Multispecies infrastructures: Coffee and Subsistence in a Neoliberal Frontier  
Jamon Halvaksz (University of Texas At San Antonio)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the more-than-human infrastructures of coffee and subsistence agriculture. Interrogating the frictions of neoliberal and indigenous ideas of place and person, I argue that local assemblages of coffee are challenged by interventions that deny local agricultural potentialities.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I consider agricultural assemblages of places, persons, and coffee as more-than-human infrastructures through the experience of Biangai speakers along the upper Bulolo River of Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. Interrogating the frictions of neoliberal and indigenous ideas of place and person, I argue that local practices of coffee production for international markets are challenged by external interventions that favor individuality, alienability of land, and the separation of nature from culture. Rivers, trees, animal cohabitants, ancestral forces, etc. are assembled together with transportation, telecommunications, local processing facilities, etc. to form distinctive networks of production. While coffee sometimes fits uneasily within Biangai practices of land tenure, it has found a productive fit within local socio-ecologies.

However, under the rubrics of Corporate Social Responsibility and a weak government, these multispecies infrastructures are challenged by business / farming training programs, cooperative social structures and neoliberal regimes of land and resource management. The role of a larger multinational mining company operating a gold mine on the land of the Biangai is particularly prominent as they sponsor much of the training offered to the coffee growers, and support large international coffee buyers who work in the area. While local practices have proven effective in production, infrastructures that are decentered from socio-ecological realities of garden and place-based relationships are fostered at the corporate and state level.

Panel Irre09a
Agricultural infrastructures in a failed ecology I
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 March, 2021, -