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Title:Historical regimes of socio-natures in farmlands: practices of conventional farming in Fukuoka, Japan
Author(s):Ono, Takamitsu
Director of Research:Gille, Zsuzsa
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gille, Zsuzsa
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Ghamari-Tabrizi, Behrooz; Schulz, Markus; Wilson, Roderick I.
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:How do conventional farmers engage with farmland, especially rice paddy, nature in contemporary Japan? To answer this question, I examine multiple ways in which they practice their relationships with “socio-natures” and how those practices have historically and transnationally developed, especially since the end of the Japanese empire in the mid-20th century. By conducting ethnographic and archival research about conventional farmers in Itoshima city, Fukuoka, Japan, I analyze a variety of practices, such as handling “harmful bugs” in rice paddies (including use of pesticides), fertilizer use, infrastructure modernization in rice paddies, a reduced pesticide rice farming movement, the 2005-2007 “Agriculture’s Blessings” government program (which subsidized farmers for investigating rice paddy bugs and other creatures and reducing pesticide use), and the Agricultural Land, Water, and the Environment Preservation and Improvement Policy, 2007-2011. I argue that the relationships of embodied human actors, non-human actors in farmlands, discourses, and institutions (transnational relations, science, logics of agricultural policy, farming technologies), in other words “regimes,” around socio-natures of rice paddies have shifted over time from the “nature-subduing agriculture” regime (the 1940s—1980s) to the “environmental conservation agriculture” regime (the 1980s—2010s). To explain the regimes and the shift over time, I take into account how those multiple actors in power relations have shaped each other from multiple directions. For example, pesticides that produced a particular rice paddy ecology and health issues for farmers and consumers helped rearticulate the relationships among rice paddy bugs, conventional farmers, consumers, pesticides, and government policy especially since the mid-1970s. The international trade policy, especially the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in the mid-1980s provided the “green box” to indirectly subsidize farming through agro-environmental government programs. A changing “gaze” toward the “rural” especially by the urbanites by the 1980s has similarly facilitated the regime shift. The study aims to contribute to the field partly by engaging with a number of theoretical and conceptual frameworks that have been underexplored in this empirical topic (e.g., political ecology, actor-network theory, productivism/post-productivism, and ecological modernization). The under-examined case of Japan also adds to the existing research on why conventional farmers join agro-environmental government programs primarily in “Western” countries. Finally, it problematizes the “environmental conservation agriculture” regime and sketches out an alternative possibility of “environmentally sustainable agriculture” combined with transnational social justice.
Issue Date:2015-01-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Takamitsu Ono
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-01-21
Date Deposited:2014-12

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