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Changes in the Weather

A Sri Lankan Village Case Study

Mariella Marzano

As the impacts of climate change are expected to increase, there is growing concern in development contexts over how best to assist the poor and vulnerable to adapt to such changes whilst ensuring environmental and livelihood security. Climate variability is a persistent and progressively more worrying feature in the everyday lives of individuals and communities in rural areas around the world and there is a pressing need for comprehensive knowledge of the complex relationships between humans, and between them and their environment. Thus there is a growing movement towards bridging the gap between top-down decision-making and more grassroots approaches that encompass local knowledge and experiences. Drawing upon fieldwork in Sri Lanka, this article examines the potential of taking an indigenous knowledge research (IKR) approach to understanding local adaptation to climate change, specifically how local people are adapting their livelihood strategies to what they perceive to be increasing variability in weather patterns. It also explores the prospect of indigenous knowledge networks as vehicles for rapidly sharing information and building links between policy making and local reality.

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Ravi K. Raman

Through a case study of an anti-cola struggle in a south Indian village, this paper promotes the conceptual treatment of subaltern cosmopolitanism in the contemporary context of anticorporate social movements. In this situation the multiple issues raised by a local movement, such as livelihood, sustainability, and human rights, sensitize each of the new social agencies involved, within and outside the borders of the local state, and help forge a solidarity network across borders with their universally relevant concerns of environmental ethics and livelihood rights. It is further suggested that it is precisely the new politics of ecology and culture articulated by the subalterns that constructs an enduring and viable future for social movements.

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James F. Eder

English abstract: Degradation and reconfiguration of natural resources in coastal and upland Southeast Asia have set in motion a characteristic process of rural livelihood diversification with significant implications for gender roles and economic well-being. Drawing primarily on case material from the Philippines, this paper explores the transformations in household economies that have accompanied the search for more profitable and sustainable livelihoods and suggests how state and NGO interventions might encourage an entrepreneurial and economically desirable pattern of household-level diversification instead of a debilitating and wage-labor based pattern of individual-level diversification. These interventions include an expanded role for credit; skills training and related forms of support, particularly for women; protection of newly developing household enterprises from competition from large commercial operations; and more consensual and socially equitable forms of environmental governance.

Spanish abstract: La degradación y la reconfiguración de los recursos naturales en zonas costeras y tierras altas del sudeste asiático han impulsado un proceso particular de diversificación de los medios de vida rurales, con significativas consecuencias para los roles de género y el bienestar económico. A partir de una investigación realizada por el autor en las Filipinas, este trabajo explora las transformaciones de la economía de los hogares que han acompañado la búsqueda de medios de vida más rentables y sostenibles. Además, sugiere que las intervenciones del gobierno y de las ONG pueden fomentar un proceso de diversificación de ingresos en la economía de los hogares (household economies), emprendedor y económicamente deseable, en lugar de un modelo de diversificación individual debilitante basado en la relación entre salario y empleo. Estas intervenciones incluyen un rol ampliado de las formas de crédito, capacitacion y otras formas de apoyo, específicos para mujeres, protección de las nacientes empresas familiares frente a la competencia de grandes granjas comerciales, y formas de gobernanza medioambiental más consensuales y socialmente responsables.

French abstract: La dégradation et la reconfiguration des ressources naturelles sur les côtes et les hautes terres de l'Asie du Sud Est ont entamé un processus caractéristique de la diversification des moyens de subsistance en milieu rural, avec des implications considérables pour les rôles de genre et le bien-être économique. Se basant principalement sur des données venant des Philippines, cet article examine les transformations des revenus des ménages qui ont accompagné la recherche de moyens de subsistance plus durables et plus profitables. En outre, l'article suggère de quelle façon les interventions de l'État et des ONG peuvent encourager un modèle audacieux et économiquement souhaitable de diversification au niveau des ménages, au lieu d'un modèle de diversification au niveau de l'individu, débilitant et basé sur la relation salaire/travail. Ces interventions comprennent un rôle accru du crédit, des formations professionnelles et des formes de soutien apparentées (en particulier pour les femmes), la protection des entreprises des ménages tout juste en développement vis à vis de la compétition avec les grandes exploitations commerciales, ainsi que des formes de gouvernance environnementale plus consensuelles et socialement équitables.

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Quality at some point became quantity

Flawed 'participatory' and other poverty assessments from northern Orissa

Alan Rew and Martin Rew

The 'qualitative' pole of (Q-squared) combined methods has been defined in mainly residual ways as 'non-numerical' or 'noneconomics'. There is need, instead, for a critical social theorization of qualitative methods. Evidence from a development program for chronically poor, tribal, northern Orissa is used to examine the communicative action of 'participatory assessment' (PA). PA assumes that 'group' and 'visual' synergies can challenge the power relations that restrict communication and poor people's emancipation. The authors' ethnographies show that participants sequestered information from PA village seminars. Although well trained, the PA organizers increasingly ignored cultural context and substituted universalized techniques that produced only quantities of noncontextualized attitudes. The core PA routines therefore gave misleading results; they mistakenly replaced substantive accounts of communication in relation to lifeworlds with abstract seminar techniques. To obtain more reliable results, methods of 'embedded' economic anthropology were used instead to assess poverty.

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Liudmila Alferova

The legal position of indigenous minorities in the Russian Federation is defined, first and foremost, by constitutional principles, which guarantee equal rights and freedoms to individuals and citizens. In reality, however, equality between indigenous minorities and other ethnic groups of the Russian Federation, in terms of the possibility of exercising their rights, depends largely on the conditions in which they live and conduct their livelihood activities. The rights of indigenous minorities are primarily concerned with preserving their ethnic identity, languages, culture, way of life, and livelihood activities. Additional safeguards are required to resolve contemporary issues related to the above.

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Avoiding Poison

Congolese Refugees Seeking Cosmological Continuity in Urban Asylum

Georgina Ramsay

Avoiding poison refers here to practices of securitization that enable refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to exert agency in urban asylum in Uganda. I consider that the stakes of poisoning are not exclusively understood in terms of physiological survival, but are existential, relating to the ways that Congolese refugees imbue purpose in their lives through acts that restore cosmological continuity. Focusing on the cosmological logics through which refugees experience urban asylum, I argue that practices of avoiding poison can be seen as acts of securitization whereby refugees exert agency in precarious contexts of urban asylum.

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Susann Baez Ullberg

Flooding has long been a recurrent problem in the Argentinian city of Santa Fe, mainly affecting the poverty-stricken suburban outskirts. In 2003 one of the worst floods ever occurred, which also affected residents in the middle income sectors who had never been flooded before and who reacted with an extraordinary process of commemoration and protest against the government for its lax disaster management. Paradoxically, most other past disastrous floods in the city’s history seem to dwell in the shadows of social oblivion. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the years 2004–2011, this article analyzes how local flood memories are made through daily life practices and places in the suburban outskirts, more than through public commemorations, which has implications for vulnerability and risk.

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Pierre Du Plessis and Sanal Mohan

John Hartigan Jr., Care of the Species: Races of Corn and the Science of Plant Biodiversity. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 376, 2017.

Luisa Steur, Indigenist Mobilization: Confronting Electoral Communism and Precarious Livelihoods in Post-Reform Kerala. New York: Berghahn, pp. 302, 2017.

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Thijs Schut

Development discourses often assume linear rural transitions, in which educated young people are supposed to leave their rural communities, becoming urban. However, drawing on fieldwork in Flores (East Indonesia), I argue that tertiary educated young people do return to their natal communities upon graduation. There, they want to act—by virtue of their education—as vanguards of positive change and alter what they consider backward, rural livelihoods and practices. Yet, educated young people often depend on these livelihoods and practices, too, especially when they cannot obtain work, which is common in rural Flores. To better understand the tensions inherent to these young people’s position within their rural communities, I map the reasons for their returns to rural Flores.

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Gunnar Thorvaldsen

Swedish troops were the first major group of foreigners to be exiled to Siberia. This article overviews their early eighteenth century diaspora, particularly their livelihoods, religiosity and terms of imprisonment, their relations with Russian citizens and authorities, and their potential contributions to the development of Asian Russia. It builds primarily on Swedish secondary and primary sources such as the officers' diaries, and to some extent on the much scarcer Russian historiography.