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Claiming crisis: narratives of tension and insurance in rural India

This article discusses local expressions of crisis in Beed district, central Maharashtra. Both in public and academic discourse crisis has become the term of choice for the many structural deficiencies which make agriculture an increasingly precarious livelihood in India. While most voices subscribe to the explanation that the current state of distress can be attributed to the unprofitability of agriculture, a wide range of structural explanations are suggested as to why this might be the case.

Tim van de Meerendonk
05 August 2020
Full article Claiming crisis: narratives of tension and insurance in rural India

Consequently, in some debates agricultural crisis runs the risk of moving the experiences, agency and postionalities of those imagined to be living through its consequences to the background. This paper counterbalances such causal explanations by empirically delving into the imaginaries of agricultural crisis as they are articulated, negotiated and employed by farmers in Maharashtra. Based on twelve months of ethnographic research, the paper examines how ideas of crisis are entangled with colloquial understandings by taking experiences of ‘tension’, an Anglicised term used to express feelings akin to stress, as object of inquiry. I argue that by claiming crisis through invoking feelings of tension farmers mobilise a plurality of meanings, narratives and moral evaluations about what is wrong with agriculture in this part of India.

Read the full article in Contemporary South Asia, volume 8, issue 3 (Pages 362-37)

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