An examination of seed saving as a technology of resistance: A case study within the premises of a biodiversity conservation farm in Uttarakhand, India

University essay from Lunds universitet/Humanekologi

Abstract: The thesis aims to understand if seed saving practiced by oppressed small-scale farmers and peasants who are affiliated with Navdanya can be seen as a technology of resistance against the dominant agri-food industrial paradigm. Another aim is to find out how political and cultural meanings are attached to seed saving. It also aims to challenge this aforementioned paradigm. The inquiry is exemplified through an exploratory case study in Uttarakhand, India that was conducted during my internship with Navdanya, a NGO that works on biodiversity conservation and the promotion of small-scale farmers rights. Navdanya’s role is also examined in respect with seed saving and small-scale farmers’ political organization. The thesis also presents the political, economical, cultural and ideological context within which the dominant agri-food paradigm is oppressing small-scale farmers and peasants globally. Primary data were collected through participant observation, semi-structured group interviews with farmers-members of Navdanya and semi-structured interviews with key figures of Navdanya. Seed saving is actually identified as a technology of resistance of subordinated classes based on James Scott’s theory. The thesis also explains how it is linked with Gandhi’s concept of Swaraj, food sovereignty and emancipatory politics. Even though seed saving can be seen as a very radical political action it is argued that informants of the inquiry do not perceive it as such. They seem to challenge certain laws or policies that undermine their interests but not institutions or their social locations in order to reach emancipation.

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