The history and development of de-swiddening among the ersu in sichuan, china
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AbstractThe process of coercing or persuading farmers to transition from shifting agriculture to more sedentary agricultural practices, a process I refer to as 'de-swiddening,' has been well documented for many decades. Most often this process takes place in the political context of a state's attempt to make an agricultural system more 'legible,' as Scott (1998) has aptly described it. In a more recent context, de-swiddening has actually been taken under the banner of environmental protection. In both instances, institutional bodies which design de-swiddening policies rarely consider its unintended consequences. In China, to prevent erosion in upland regions of the country, the Ministry of Forestry and the Ministry of Agriculture established the Sloping Land Conversion Program (SLCP) in 1998 to pay households not to cut down timber. At the local level, this has effectively created an altitudinal boundary preventing households from cutting any trees above 2000 meters where swiddening practices would traditionally take place. In this paper I plan to show that the policy itself was part of a historical process of the de-swiddening of various ethnic groups in Western China. Such a policy did not develop in a vacuum of knowledge but is connected to a Chinese understanding of intensified agriculture. To demonstrate this I show how the ethno-agricultural system in an Ersu Tibetan community, has been undermined by an adherence to the Chinese state's interpretation of 'scientific agriculture' over the past 80 years. Yet, I also argue that Ersu villagers engage directly with these changes as their own desire to obtain economic wealth has increased in recent decades.
All Author(s) ListSchmitt E.A.
Journal nameHimalayan Research Bulletin
Volume Number34
Issue Number2
PublisherNepal Studies Association
Place of PublicationUnited States
Pages97 - 110
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
KeywordsAnthropology, Ersu, History, Sichuan, Swidden

Last updated on 2020-05-09 at 02:26