Thursday, June 19, 2014

Abstract 2014 Camille Frazier

Camille Frazier, University of California


Agriculture as Risky Business: Agricultural Crisis, Inequality, and Resistance in India

Despite the commonly held conception that the contemporary moment represents a particularly “risky” period for agriculturalists, agriculture in India has long been characterized by insecurity. While neoliberal economic policies appear to shift the kinds of risk faced by agriculturalists, emphasizing individual responsibilities over state interventions, they do not supplant previously peaceful and untroubled relationships among cultivators, markets, and the state. The following paper will analyze how farmers’ relationships to the market have changed over time, noting the state’s role in this process, in order to argue that while neoliberal economic policies have altered agricultural practice in India in a way that individualizes risk and deepens inequality, it would be incorrect to assume that the contemporary period represents a dramatic break from an earlier, more secure form of agricultural practice. Similarly, I argue that despite scholarship proclaiming the “new” character of farmers’ movements in India today, the many continuities between previous and contemporary forms of insecurity and resistance call into question assertions about the neoliberal period as uniquely risky and contemporary farmers’ movements as distinctively organized. Rather, the increased emphasis on individual responsibilities and the privileging of corporate actors under economic liberalization have shifted how agricultural crises are conceived, experienced, managed, and resisted.

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