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Divided Dreams on Limited Land: Cultural Experiences of Agricultural Bio-energy Project and Organic Farming Transition in Taiwan

LEE, YI-TZE (2013) Divided Dreams on Limited Land: Cultural Experiences of Agricultural Bio-energy Project and Organic Farming Transition in Taiwan. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation study is based on historical comparison and analytical ethnography on contemporary projects between a Han Chinese farming community engaging in an energy crop cultivation project and an indigenous Amis community practicing organic farming in Taiwan. My main argument is that Han Chinese and indigenous Amis farmers have developed different "environmental identities" based on differing historical memories, political economy, and cultural practices as they have responded to past events and contemporary state policies. Han Chinese farmers have engaged in large-scale collective farming which has equipped them with the ability to consider farming as a scientific operation driven primarily by market values. For Amis, difficulty of access to state resources and changing attitudes towards traditional farming knowledge has led to organic farming as a new path for their engagement with the environment. A key factor for understanding these environmental identities, I argue, is disparate exposure to technological treatments of the environment and divergent concepts on property. Further exploration of environmental and empowering discourses on the transitions reveals that engagement and reflection over new projects have to be affective in order to be effective. The affective qualities not only reveal empowering dynamics for individual interpretations, but also the characteristics of supply chain capitalism in the scale of energy crop project and model thinking of organic farming project. Environmental identities are constructed via political, historical, and culturally immersed practices. The comparison shows several aspects where the results of the two cases can be potentially reversed with culturally elaborated experiences in the application of innovative technologies within problematic policies.

The ethnographic fieldwork was conducted in two rural communities of Taiwan: a Han Chinese community at Xue-Jia, Tainan County, and an indigenous Amis community at Talampo, Hualien County. Each work lasted for eight months continuously, and four months intermittently later on, from July of 2008 to December of 2009. Interviews were also done with visiting agricultural research institutes and extensions for officials and specialists of various levels. The historical backgrounds were drawn from studies and archives of national university departments of agricultural extension and Council of Agriculture as references.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairStrathern, Andrewstrather@pitt.eduSTRATHER
Committee CoChairScaglion, Richardscaglion@pitt.eduSCAGLION
Committee MemberAlter, Josephjsalter@pitt.eduJSALTER
Committee MemberWeintraub, Andrewanwein@pitt.eduANWEIN
Date: 29 January 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 July 2012
Approval Date: 29 January 2013
Submission Date: 20 November 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 313
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Agricultural Technology, Bio-energy, Organic Farming, Environmental Identities, Scale, Model
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2013 21:23
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:07


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