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Title:Gardens Are for Cash, Grain Is for Life: The Social Organization of Parallel Production Processes in a Rural Bamana Village (Mali)
Author(s):Wooten, Stephen R.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gottlieb, Alma
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Economics, Agricultural
Abstract:In this dissertation I present a case study of the social organization of agriculture in a rural Bamana community in central Mali. Research was conducted during 1992 and 1993-94 on the Manding Plateau. Using qualitative and quantitative data, I document a situation in which village residents use one organizational pattern for food production and another for market gardening. I provide extensive ethnographic detail on the organization of labor, land use strategies, agricultural techniques, and cropping systems within each production domain. I show that the community's five primary social, residential, and consumption units (domestic groups) also dominate in food production. In contrast, I document how individuals and small groups prevail in the production of fresh fruits and vegetables for urban markets in Bamako. I provide data on 22 separate garden production operations. I show that while all individuals have the right to undertake independent income-generating activities, gender, age, family position, and family history all play important roles in determining who exercises this right in the lucrative gardening sector; with middle-aged married men dominating. By providing a case study in which these two production dynamics coexist, I challenge the widespread notion that the development of commercial agriculture necessarily leads to the dissolution of complex forms of socio-economic organization geared toward subsistence production. I argue that this particular situation is best understood with reference to a collaboration of local cultural, economic, and social factors. I suggest that local discourses on individuality/rivalry and collectivity/harmony reflect a cultural orientation of integrating what are often cast in the social science literature as conflicting aspects of life--economic or otherwise. Next, I suggest that a group strategy toward basic reproduction and an individual strategy toward income-generation makes sense in terms of regional political economy and the challenges of savanna ecology. Finally, I suggest that the pattern of coexistence between domestic group food farming and market gardening depends on and strengthens long-standing inequalities between men and women, and seniors and juniors. This study makes contributions to Bamana ethnography, the study of agrarian change in rural Africa, and to literature on West African development.
Issue Date:1997
Description:381 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9737293
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1997

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