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Coffee Time

Njeri Kinyanjui

In Coffee Time, Mary Njeri Kinyanjui uses her childhood experiences in a rural coffee farm to show the struggles that farmers go through to earn a living. They linger in poverty as intermediaries along the coffee value chain rake huge profits. It is a story of trade injustice in an asymmetrical world.

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Community, Commons and Natural Resource Management in Asia

Haruka Yanagisawa

In many traditional societies, certain resources are held in common, with their use and disposition controlled by the community collectively. Such “common-pool resources” have come to play a significant element in programs of environmental preservation in Asia, and for this reason historical changes in arrangements for controlling them are of considerable importance. Through case studies from Japan, Korea, Thailand, India and Bhutan, this volume examines attitudes toward common-pool resources in different local contexts, with a particular emphasis on forests and policies relating to environmental conservation. The authors are specialists on the regions they study who use historical documents in local languages along with data collected during long-term fieldwork. Their conclusions raise questions about understandings of natural property resources based on dichotomous frameworks like “modern versus traditional societies”, “state versus community” and “commercialization versus subsistence economies”. The case studies indicate that in pre-modern and early modern Asia natural resources were frequently under free-access regimes, and that where systems of control existed, subsequent institutional changes involved a variety of sequences that cannot be summarized readily within a simple modernist framework.

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Decentralisation and Spatial Rural Development Planning in Cameroon

Despite rapid urbanisation, Africa remains predominantly rural. This calls for decentralisation beyond the dominant concern by states and government with urban spaces. Rural areas, rural development and the future of rural settlements need to be understood and addressed in the context of the ongoing democratisation trends and the emergence and development of civil society. States have tended to tame rather than serve civil society in Africa. By establishing a single cultural reference and imposing a centralised state, African governments have exacerbated the fragmentation of civil society. However, political pluralism has slowly been gaining ground since the 1990s. This book explores the scope for implementing decentralisation programmes that focus on citizens in rural areas. For the purpose of decentralisation, civic participation in local politics and user participation in development programmes must be seen as two sides of the coin. The book focuses on spatial planning ñ a process concerned with spatial organisation in an integrative manner, and incorporates the design, establishment and implementation of a desired spatial structural organisation of land. This is especially relevant in a context where the formulation of guidelines for spatial development at the overall level of a state is inadequate.

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Do, Die, or Get Along

A Tale of Two Appalachian Towns

Peter Crow

Do, Die, or Get Along weaves together voices of twenty-six people who have intimate connections to two neighboring towns in the southwestern Virginia coal country. Filled with evidence of a new kind of local outlook on the widespread challenge of small community survival, the book tells how a confrontational "do-or-die" past has given way to a "get-along" present built on coalition and guarded hope. St. Paul and Dante are six miles apart; measured in other ways, the distance can be greater. Dante, for decades a company town controlled at all levels by the mine owners, has only a recent history of civic initiative. In St. Paul, which arose at a railroad junction, public debate, entrepreneurship, and education found a more receptive home.

The speakers are men and women, wealthy and poor, black and white, old-timers and newcomers. Their concerns and interests range widely, including the battle over strip mining, efforts to control flooding, the 1989-90 Pittston strike, the nationally acclaimed Wetlands Estonoa Project, and the grassroots revitalization of both towns led by the St. Paul Tomorrow and Dante Lives On organizations. Their talk of the past often invokes an ethos, rooted in the hand-to-mouth pioneer era, of short-term gain. Just as frequently, however, talk turns to more recent times, when community leaders, corporations, unions, the federal government, and environmental groups have begun to seek accord based on what will be best, in the long run, for the towns.

The story of Dante and St. Paul, Crow writes, "gives twenty-first-century meaning to the idea of the good fight." This is an absorbing account of persistence, resourcefulness, and eclectic redefinition of success and community revival, with ramifications well beyond Appalachia.

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Dreamworlds of Alabama

Allen Shelton

“I speak in what others often hear as a strange accent. My past can’t be located. I live in Buffalo, New York, an exile from the South. But these aren’t Yankee dreams, even though my past seems like a fabrication, a dreamworld in which I’m a paper character and not a historical participant, with scars from barbed wire ripping under the pressure and flying through the air like a swarm of bees, or a horse rearing up and banging its head into mine from within, exploding my forehead.” —from the Preface

 

Wisteria draped on a soldier’s coffin, sent home to Alabama from a Virginia battlefield. The oldest standing house in the county, painted gray and flanked by a pecan orchard. A black steel fence tool, now perched atop a pile of books like a prehistoric bird of prey. In Dreamworlds of Alabama, Allen Shelton explores physical, historical, and social landscapes of northeastern Alabama. His homeplace near the Appalachian foothills provides the setting for a rich examination of cultural practices, a place where the language of place and things resonates with as much vitality and emotional urgency as the language of humans.

 

Throughout the book, Shelton demonstrates how deeply culture is inscribed in the land and in the most intimate spaces of the person—places of belonging and loss, insight and memory.

 

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Alabama, Allen Shelton is associate professor of sociology at Buffalo State College.

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Dwelling in Resistance

Living with Alternative Technologies in America

Chelsea Schelly

Most Americans take for granted much of what is materially involved in the daily rituals of dwelling. In Dwelling in Resistance, Chelsea Schelly examines four alternative U.S. communities—“The Farm,” “Twin Oaks,” “Dancing Rabbit,” and “Earthships”—where electricity, water, heat, waste, food, and transportation practices differ markedly from those of the vast majority of Americans.
 
Schelly portrays a wide range of residential living alternatives utilizing renewable, small-scale, de-centralized technologies. These technologies considerably change how individuals and communities interact with the material world, their natural environment, and one another. Using in depth interviews and compelling ethnographic observations, the book offers an insightful look at different communities’ practices and principles and their successful endeavors in sustainability and self-sufficiency.
 

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Eat Local, Taste Global

How Ethnocultural Food Reaches Our Tables

Glen C. Filson and Bamidele Adekunle

Eat Local, Taste Global: How Ethnocultural Food Reaches Our Tables shows how the demand for ethnocultural vegetables on the part of Toronto’s South Asian, Chinese, and Afro-Caribbean Canadians is at odds with the corporate food regime. How does that regime affect the local food movement and ethnic groups’ access to their preferred foods? This book addresses that question and suggests that the protection of ethnic and national food security and sovereignty strengthens immigrant integration while producing healthy crossover effects for other Canadians.

The authors show how culture, food, and migration are intertwined and how access to ethnocultural vegetables is affected by ethnicity, social class, shopping venues, and food prices. Most ethnic vegetables are imported by corporations and ethnic intermediaries and pass through Toronto’s Food Terminal; however, local farmers are now producing some of these vegetables, and alternative forms of agriculture and markets play a significant role in bringing ethnocultural vegetables to our tables.

Social justice requires that people have both food security and food sovereignty. Eat Local, Taste Global offers solutions to identified contradictions that include making farmers’ markets more inclusive, improving conditions for migrant farm workers, and making alternative forms of agriculture more feasible. This book will be of interest to rural sociologists and political scientists as well as policy-makers, food activists, farmers, and food security organizations.

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Elites and Change in the Kentucky Mountains

H. Dudley Plunkett and Mary Jean Bowman

Many Americans who trace their roots to communities similar to those of Appalachian Kentucky are becoming aware of the extent to which the problems of such communities represent the price paid for keeping alive traditions that are beginning to be missed in the wider society. Using fresh data and ingenious ways of letting local people speak for themselves, Mary Jean Bowman and H. Dudley Plunkett have thrown light on how isolated, small-town people respond to the encroachment of modern America, with its organized economy, mass communications media, reliance on more and more schooling, and persistent drive for social change.

The study reveals a pervasive tension between old ways and new aspirations. Sometimes the new is in alliance with the national culture, but often tensions between regional and national ways are acute. The authors put little faith in naïve attempts to engineer social change in Appalachia -- attempts they suggest are based on dubious cultural assumptions and misconceived strategies. This study of one region in one nation can be a model for the study of similar patterns of change elsewhere.

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Environment, Agriculture and Cross-border Migrations

Yenshu Vubo

This book brings together contributions on the challenges of the environment, agriculture and cross-border migrations in Africa; key areas that have become critical for the continent’s development. The central theme running through these contributions is that Africa’s development challenges can be attributed to its human and natural ecology. Contrasted with the Cold War epoch, current developments have ushered us into a world of long and uncertain transitions characterized by a search for new pathways including investment in large-scale agriculture by big finance, attempts to revitalize existing agriculture and reworking of social policy. A major twist relates to environmental questions, especially climate change and its global effects, leading to all forms of cross-border migrations and the emergence of new areas of strategic interest such as sub-regional developments as in the Gulf of Guinea. This book provides some intellectual clues on how to interpret these emerging predicaments and chart a way forward into a new era for Africa.

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Farmers Helping Farmers

The Rise of the Farm and Home Bureaus, 1914-1935

Nancy K. Berlage

One of the largest volunteer movements in the twentieth century, local farm and home bureau organizations have been woefully underrepresented in socio-political studies of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Nancy K. Berlage addresses this omission with an insightful look at how bureau members put university science to work in agricultural and rural life at the local level, even while industrialization, and urbanization profoundly shifted the landscape of labor in the U.S.

In Farmers Helping Farmers, Berlage explores how bureaus served as the locus of science-based agriculture for rural communities. Drawing on community bonds and culturally powerful metaphors to overcome skepticism, bureaus played a critical role in circulating knowledge grounded in the new disciplines of agricultural economics, rural sociology, home economics, veterinary medicine, child science, and public health. Throughout the book, Berlage weaves a novel consideration of women's roles into the story of farm and home bureaus, noting that these organizations served as places where supporters could grapple with issues beyond farming practices such as child welfare, personal health, and gender ideals. They were also crucial in supporting the organization's underlying mission to strengthen community and family ties to the benefit of more efficient and productive farm.

In addition to bureau documents, Berlage draws from cartoons, films, photographs, and personal correspondence, to add a human dimension this organizational history. The resultant analysis offers a fresh look at the local bureaus' social, economic, cultural, and political functions and book highlights the organizations' significant influence on American life in the early twentieth century.

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