Embodied political ecologies: Sensing agrarian change in north India

Authors: Eden Kinkaid*, Univeristy of Arizona
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Agricultural Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: political ecology, india, feminist political ecology, health, agriculture, development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Roosevelt 1, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In this presentation, I examine perceptions and interpretations of agrarian change among small farmers in Uttarakhand, highlighting the role of the body in these accounts. In particular, I focus on farmers who have transitioned or are transitioning to organic agriculture, most of whom have witnessed the shift from traditional methods to chemical agriculture and a more recent return to organic methods in the region during their lifetimes. Recognizing a lack of attention to farmers’ perspectives in histories of the Green Revolution, I advocate for the inclusion of issues of embodiment in accounts of agrarian change through reference to a political ecology of the body framework. After establishing this conceptual framework, I introduce my empirical study and its major points of emphasis. I first examine the embodied effects of transitions in agrarian practice by presenting farmers’ accounts of agrarian change, histories in which issues of disease and perceptions of health play a prominent role. I then turn to farmers’ embodied enactments of agrarian change by considering their perspectives on and participation in the organic farming “movement” in Uttarakhand. In both cases, the effects and potentials of agrarian change are experienced through bodily registers, leaving impressions that inform farmers’ decision-making and action. Drawing on feminist political ecologies and political ecologies of the body, I examine the implications of these accounts for our understanding of agrarian change and shifts in agricultural practice in South Asia.

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