TECHNOPOLITICS, AGRARIAN WORK AND RESISTANCE IN POST-GREEN REVOLUTION INDIAN PUNJAB
This dissertation provides a historically informed examination of the emergent politics of agro-ecological sustainability in the Malwa region, the cotton-belt of Indian Punjab. I revisit the period of agro-chemical agricultural intensification, known as the “Green Revolution’ since the 1960s, through subjective histories of the transformation of agrarian work that are inflected through the lived experiences of the present. Punjabi farmers, once perceived as the favoured beneficiaries of state-led development practices are now in the midst of a social and ecological crisis with falling incomes, high levels of indebtedness, frequent crop failures, polluted environment and increasing incidence of diseases. Using qualitative methods, I examine how this experience of precariousness and downward mobility among capitalist farmers has fostered an alternative imaginary that seeks to revalue agrarian work and enact sustainable agroecological farming, as well as the constraints on the realisation of this imaginary. For Punjabi farmers, the struggle is not one of preservation but of forging new practices of food production and consumption in a degraded material and social landscape. While sustainable agroecological farming is incipient and much less vibrant than in many other regions of India, it is precisely its emergence in Punjab that is instructive for understanding the exclusions structured through postcolonial developmental politics. The Green Revolution exemplifies the spatial, temporal and social displacement of ecological costs through regional division of labour, and through in-situ capitalist transformation of agrarian work. I argue that this historically situated prefigurative mobilisation, its ongoing internal negotiations and structural limitations, is a critical vantage point for understanding the political implications of the unevenness of postcolonial development practices.
Sociology; Agrarian work; Agroecology; Green Revolution; Prefiguration; Rural Social Movements; India
McMichael, Philip David
Makki, Fouad M.; Wolford, Wendy W.
Ph. D., Development Sociology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis