Enacting “Technology” and Everything Else: Gendered Practices and the System of Crop Intensification

Author: 

Natasha Susan Koshy

PhD defended at: 

Syracuse University

Summary: 

This dissertation is a qualitative examination of the functioning of a rural development project in a Himalayan region of India, with a special focus on a particular project activity centred around an agro-ecological method of crop production, the System of Crop Intensification (SCI). Environmental changes and disasters along with rapid transformations in the rural economy in Uttarakhand has engendered a renewed interest in non-mainstream farming practices. However, the success and/or failure rates of adoption of new agricultural methods and technologies remains a poorly understood phenomenon. Studies of adoption rates tend to focus on the aspects of the technology itself, rather than its social life.

Drawing from science, technology and society studies, agrarian studies, scholarship on rural livelihoods, political ecology, gender studies and practice theory, this research study examines how the discourse of SCI is articulated differently in different spaces, and the implications of these variations for extension and adoption practices. Beginning with the construction of knowledge at the institutional level, the research study first traces who articulates what, and how and why this process takes place, in both the national and regional contexts. Second, it examines how contestations in discourse translate into mediated practices and outcomes. Finally, the study focuses on the embodied identities of field development workers and the inhibitory as well as emancipatory effects of the structuring elements of the organisation. The study finds that SCI, and rural development projects more broadly, are co-produced both discursively and in practice, by project planners, development workers, and beneficiaries.

Defended: 

2017