Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
Abstract Despite emerging appreciations of contextual knowledge systems, elements of diversity in mountain farming systems are often characterized as irrational and as obstacles to achieving the production goals of 'modernized' agriculture. In this paper, I suggest that these negative representations are produced at least in part as a function of the normalization of a large-scale agriculture as rational. A case-study of a mountain farming system in the Karakoram mountains of northern Pakistan is presented to expose a contextual rationality in relation to risk minimization and to challenge characterizations of this system as 'backward,' unsophisticated and irrational. Specifically I examine the risk mediating characteristics of practices such as field dispersal, delayed planting, intercropping, and polyvarietal planting and conclude that the characteristic feature of this local farming system is a contextually rational diversity. This conflicts with the modernist paradigm of rationality and economic growth subscribed to by a local development agency. Intervention based on ill-informed interpretations of “traditional” practice have the potential to increase vulnerability of villagers by failing to appreciate the contextual rationality of diversity.
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