Anthropology Seminar | Landing on the earth: Organic farmers reassemble their Local in Central Vietnam, by Ashley Carruthers
Thursday May 13, 2021: 3.00 – 5.00pm in Room 441, Social Sciences Bldg and via Zoom*
This paper tells the story of a small group of Central Vietnamese farmers living near the tourist town of Hoi An who avoided being forced out of farming by starting a co-operative, the Thanh Dong Organic Vegetable Garden. Faced by the economic crisis of smallholder farming, the creeping gentrification of their hamlet and the seemingly inevitable fate of becoming peri-urban labourers, the farmers found a way to return to working their own land in a style that is economically, environmentally and socially durable. With a little help from local government and an NGO, it is as though they succeeded in reassembling their fractured local world.
The farmers certainly don’t inhabit the world of simple localism evoked in the organics literature, but rather have assembled a terrain networked with a variety of other actors and institutions at a range of different scales. In this way the Thanh Dong farmers have, for now at least, endured the waves of deterritorialisation acting on their community and found a viable way of “landing on the earth” (Latour 2018). They currently happily and productively dwell in a space of “traditional” smallholder farming thought to have been left behind by the advancing front of modernisation.
Informed by Bruno Latour and influential New Materialisms work in anthropology by Tsing, Haraway and others, this paper seeks to join the venture of telling hopeful stories about “life in the ruins” of capitalist modernity, unlikely endeavours of multi-species worldmaking, and situated technological projects that occupy a nonmodern orientation to the unfolding of time.
About the Speaker
Ashley Carruthers is a lecturer in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the ANU. His recent publications include: “Taking the Road for Play: Cyclist Appropriations of Automobile Infrastructures in Vietnam” in Transfers (8):1-27, 2018; & “On the Myth of Uncivilized Rural People in the City. Mythbusting Vietnam: Facts, Fictions, Fantasies” with Dang, in Earl, C. (Ed.) (2018) NIAS, 163–181.
Zoom* URL: https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/j/81963268265