Entanglements of agrobiodiversity-food amid cascading migration, coca conflicts, and water development (Bolivia, 1990–2013)

Karl S. Zimmerer, Hector Luís Rojas Vaca, María Teresa Hosse Sahonero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examines agrobiodiversity production and consumption among indigenous people and smallholders engaged with cascading migration, coca, and water resource changes. Addressing the questions if and how agrobiodiversity is viable amid intensifying extra-local influences, it combines the theorization of a pathway that has emerged via infrastructure entanglements and the extended case study of local utilization practices. The theoretical orientation integrates key elements of political ecology and social-ecological systems. We undertook surveys, interviews, and ethnographic participant observation in 10 communities and villages of Cochabamba, Bolivia, between 1990 and 2013. Results show how agrobiodiversity was utilized at moderate-high levels in the land and water systems, foods, and other uses of indigenous peasants and smallholder farmers in the 1990–2013 period even as certain minor crops were significantly reduced. Moreover, the results reveal how agrobiodiversity and agrobiodiverse foods have functioned in production and consumption amid the infrastructure entanglements of migration, roads, and irrigation. Embeddedness as both quotidian resource capacities and contingent sociocultural symbols was hinged to agrarian change in these accelerated entanglements. Mobilities of both meaning and people in recent infrastructure entanglement is characteristic of the unfolding utilization of agrobiodiversity and agrobiodiverse foods. Social power in the complex contours of accelerated entanglement have furnished meanings ranging from the resistance politics of indigenous people and smallholders to the purposeful agendas of more powerful groups. The conclusion highlights how dynamic agrobiodiversity utilization has emerged via the pathway of indigenous people and smallholders who are engaged in cascading, extra-local entanglements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGeoforum
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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