Re-imagining Agrarian Futures: Anticipation and Climate Change from Below
Part 1Session 6
Thu 14:00-15:30 Room 3.02
Part 2Session 7
Thu 16:00-17:30 Room 3.02
- Gerben Nooteboom University of Amsterdam
- Laurens Bakker University of Amsterdam
- Michaela Haug University of Cologne
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Climate change and the new Islamic subjects in Upland Java
Pujo Semedi Universitas Gadjah Mada
This paper aims to analyse the complex and intricate relationship between climate change, expansion of potato cultivation in the uplands, the cultivation’s growing vulnerability to non-human agencies disruption, and the forming of Islamic subjects in upland Java. Since the 1980s agricultural areas in the uplands of Java have been transformed into potato fields, in response to the increasing demand in the domestic market due to the changes in Indonesian lifestyle. During this period, Indonesia’s potato production increased fivefold, from 225,000 to 1.2 million tons. This tremendous increase was accompanied by accumulation of land access among wealthy farmers, more intensive capital injections, dependence on bank loans, as well as an increase in the cost of agro-chemical spending to repel microbial pests. According to farmer’s observations, the increased pest attacks have something to do with climate change, as rains fall outside the seasonal pattern. During this period, the building of prayer houses mushroomed in every hamlet and neighbourhood in the uplands. Every farmer who gets success is competing to build the most beautiful prayer house, the bigger the better. Earlier studies (Kuncoro, 2011; Santoso 2016) indicate the relation between the risky potato cultivation and this dynamic in the farmers’ religious life. The works also indicate the use of religion as land owners’ mechanism to maintain control over farm laborers.
Imagining an agroecological future in the Mekong uplands
Jean-Christophe Castella Frenh National Research Institute for Sustainable Development
In recent decades, there has been growing global recognition of the essential role and responsibility of local communities and the importance of their specific knowledge in effectively dealing with natural hazards and climate change. Climate change raises temperatures, modifies precipitation patterns and increases both the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather-related events, thereby threatening people’s coping and adaptation capacities. While farming households constantly adapt to the influence of global drivers of change in an increasingly connected world (e.g. market integration, economic policies, environmental regulations, climate change), agrarian societies - with agriculture as main occupation, as most important economic activity and as dominant ideology of rural development – have gradually shifted to societies increasingly based on industrial production and services. These rapid and profound societal and environmental transformations, known as the agrarian transition, have deeply changed local adaptation mechanisms from flexible type of resilience based on traditional knowledge, reciprocity practice and agile mobility to a capital-based resilience, which depends on the accumulation of stocks and resources.
Living by the weather: exploring the influence of climate on frontiers dynamics and perceptions of loss in north-eastern Cambodia
Kelly Dorkenoo Lund University
Cambodia’s economic transition has relied on resources extraction and a rapid integration in the globalized economy. Agriculture and fisheries remain culturally and economically important sectors in the country, especially for low-income groups. The consequences of extensive land-use change, infrastructure development and expanding resource frontiers of the last two decades coupled with increasingly unpredictable and adverse weather conditions challenge land-based livelihoods in unprecedented ways. This presentation focuses on the influence of climate, in particular extreme weather, in changing livelihoods and perceptions of loss in context of rapid agrarian change. It draws from empirical work conducted in Ratanakkiri province in Cambodia, which includes 300 surveys, 25 interviews and 8 focus group discussions. It centres around interactions between weather events and broader land-use changes and dynamics, sense of loss (material and immaterial), values associated to land and visions of the future in a changing climate.
Rethinking Agrarian Change in Southeast Asia during the Age of Climate Change
John McCarthy Australian National University
The age of climate change brings into question established ways of thinking about agrarian change and rural futures in the global south. As metrological forces intersect with shifting political, economic and social forces, everyday politics, rural livelihood strategies, and policy responses appear to be altering. A range of scholars and development actors have developed new ‘transformation’ narratives for proposed Climate Change transitions. At the same time, recent ideas regarding coproduction and socio-nature suggest the need to refresh existing conceptualizations of agrarian change. Taken together, these developments provoke an urgent need for reconsidering established ways of thinking about agrarian transitions and rural vulnerability in the rural south. This paper will use Indonesian examples to consider different ways of thinking about rural change from below, reflecting on the implications for developing a new research agenda for studying agrarian change in the age of climate change.
A green future capital? Considerations from Kalimantan
Laurens Bakker University of Amsterdam
Now that the new national capital of Nusantara is being developed in the province of East Kalimantan, the matter of its green, smart and ecologically friendly nature is increasingly coming to the future. What are the standards for Nusantara, and can the planners and developers of this new capital avoid the pitfalls experienced in the construction of whole new capitals elsewhere?
Envisioning Alternative Oil Palm Futures from Below
Michaela Haug Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology
This talk traces the search for a “greener” and socially and ecologically more sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia that are developed by indigenous communities in Kalimantan and a newly emerging activist network that both build on the aspiration to integrate oil palms into diversified landscapes and diverse livelihoods. These imagined, alternative palm oil futures foreground values that differ from the mainstream narrative of development in rural Indonesia. They aim to prevent the emergence of further landlessness, to reduce future costs due to climate change and environmental degradation and focus on food security, health and wellbeing of the local population. By ascribing to local people the potential to be active and successful future makers, these alternative oil palm futures further undermine the premise underlying common development narratives, namely that local people are “in need of development” and that external investors are needed to achieve progress. They might thus be able to open the door to a new way of understanding and re-imagining agrarian futures in Indonesia.
Imagining agricultural and water alternatives in an uncertain and rapidly changing river landscape in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
Anu Lounela University of Helsinki
This paper discusses the changing forestry and agricultural practices of indigenous peoples in Kalimantan in a changing river and wetland landscape that has been repeatedly degraded by fires. It explores shifting alternatives people create when imagining their future in an uncertain and sometimes unrecognisable landscape. Rivers and wetlands are an important foundation for the social and economic life of the indigenous Ngaju Dayak people of southern Borneo. They gather forest products, fish, hunt and cultivate trees and plants along the rivers that flow through the wetlands near their settlements. National and regional agricultural and development infrastructure projects have long drained wetlands for food production, migration schemes, and transport. Today, government restoration projects to return degraded and drained peatlands back to wetlands are being carried out in conjunction with fires that create continuing uncertainty about the future. This paper draws from the anthropology of water and infrastructure to examine how changing water infrastructure affects agricultural activities and water-human relations in the region. The paper argues that there are limits to imagining future agricultural practices, but local people are actively involved in shaping alternatives in disaster-prone landscapes.
The panel departs from the observation that interpretations, perceptions, and responses to climate change amongst (dis)empowered rural people facing emergent or disappearing livelihood options may erode predominant political projects (or capitalism) – both through everyday modes of resistance and through development of alternative futures – as much as social movements. The panel setup aims to connect speakers and the audience working on these themes and to develop collaborative actions in the field of research, teaching and societal engagement. We do this by combining short paper presentations with involvement of the audience. The presentations together with participants’ contributions will identify a research agenda and aims to develop an approach for unpacking the intertwined scenarios of agrarian-climate change. In each session, after three short presentations, the floor will be opened to the audience to share cases, examples and ideas. We invite the audience to share ideas and cases from all over Southeast Asia to generate a comparative understanding of lived experiences, resistance and alternative knowledges from below.