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Pre-Industrial Ecological Modernization in Agro-Food and Medicine
Directing the Commodification of Heritage Culture in Cambodia

dc.contributor.advisorMollinga, Peter P.
dc.contributor.authorFeuer, Hart Nadav
dc.description.abstractThe environmental movement, which picked up steam from the 1960s in many rich countries, is manifested in modern-day green politics, pollution regulation, nature protection, the re-emergence of renewable energy, and organic agriculture. Discursively, this was, and still is, a post-industrial movement that arose out of atavistic notions of ‘returning’ to the land and reversing toxic pollution and human alienation from nature. Since the mid-1990s, this discourse has penetrated into theory and practice for development in pre-industrial countries, presenting new and often contradictory lessons for modernization. In particular, the concept of ‘ecological modernization’, which was used starting in the early 1980s to describe technology-based efforts to clean up the pollution and reconcile industrial development with higher environmental expectations, is turned on its head when applied to developing countries, as the focus shifts from intervention to prevention. In developing countries, however, prevention does not strictly correspond with a transfer of Western protocols for, among others, environmental regulation, organic agricultural production and sustainable wild harvesting. Instead, prevention is more about proactive engagement with contemporary agricultural discourses and adaptation of technical advancements that provides a basis for novel and more culturally-embedded food and medicine systems.
This dissertation looks at the ‘capability’ (following Amartya Sen) of Cambodian society to reflexively interact with the pressures and opportunities presented by the commodification of food and medicine in light of ongoing discursive debates between industrial and alternative agriculture. It looks at assets available to Cambodians, including the ‘agro-social skill’ arising from rural experience that maintains a differentiated appreciation of agricultural products, as well as the role of historical narratives in creating a common basis of understanding agricultural modernization. Specifically, the dissertation explores the experience of three agricultural product types that are undergoing a contested commodification, namely organic/natural rice, sugar palm products, and traditional medicine. This work evaluates how these traditional product forms are socially reconstructed as heritage or ecological products throughout their commodification by analyzing the ways in which they are marketed, integrated into cultural politics and development, and perceived by rural and urban consumers. The primarily qualitative analysis of trends in production and consumption is also informed by economic analyses of farm productivity and marketing dynamics using a unique method of natural experimentation developed for this work.
In conclusion, this dissertation outlines the evolving successes and dilemmas of various initiatives for promoting ecological and heritage products and uncovers mechanisms by which societal ‘capability’ for proactively encountering agricultural modernization and commodification is either eroded or buttressed. The author suggests that the precondition for successful initiatives in the long-term is the preservation and reproduction of agro-social skill, which provides the reflexivity and ideological motivation to consciously direct commodification of heritage culture and, in broader terms, provide agency in managing the encroachment of capitalist relations.
dc.rightsIn Copyright
dc.subject.ddc300 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie, Anthropologie
dc.subject.ddc630 Landwirtschaft, Veterinärmedizin
dc.titlePre-Industrial Ecological Modernization in Agro-Food and Medicine
dc.title.alternativeDirecting the Commodification of Heritage Culture in Cambodia
dc.typeDissertation oder Habilitation
dc.publisher.nameUniversitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn
ulbbnediss.affiliation.nameRheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
ulbbnediss.fakultaetLandwirtschaftliche Fakultät
dc.contributor.coRefereeBecker, Mathias

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