Agrarian societies and change

Melissa Johnston, a PhD student at Murdoch University’s Asia Research Centre, has reviewed Tanya Jakimow’s book Decentring Development: Understanding Change in Agrarian Societies (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1138272).

JakimowJakimow asks: How do agrarian societies respond to development? Johnston says the book is “an important and interesting theoretical contribution to this pragmatic and oft-repeated question.” In responding to the question, Jakimow shifts the analytical focus, “to formulate a concept of ‘self-in-process’ out of the dense extant literature on structure, agency and the anthropology of self.”

Johnston suggests that development practitioners and academic readers “will appreciate results from the comparative case studies of India and Indonesia that show structural constraints shaping the self and this subjectification as both enabling and disciplining (Chapters 3 and 4).” She adds that “Anthropologists and critical development theorists would surely also enjoy arguments that ‘extraneous’ knowledge production and research residuals are necessary to donors’ daily work, for instance, by laying the groundwork for better programming and more robust project evaluations.”


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