Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Berkeley, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9661
Approve DateApril 18, 2018
Project TitleMatthan,Tanya R., U. of California, Los Angeles, CA - To aid research on 'The Monsoon and the Market: Finance, Technology, and Risk in Rural India,' supervised by Dr. Akhil Gupta
TANYA R. MATTHAN, then a graduate student at University of California, Los Angeles, California, was awarded funding in April 2018 to aid research on “The Monsoon and the Market: Finance, Technology, and Risk in Rural India,” supervised by Dr. Akhil Gupta. Drawing on fourteen months of fieldwork, this dissertation research focuses ethnographic attention on lived experiences of uncertainty in Malwa, a predominantly agricultural region in central India. Broadly, this work asks what narratives and experiences of risk reveal about the precarity and possibilities of agrarian capitalism in the era of climate change. It approaches risk as an ethnographic object and an analytical lens through which projects of governance, accumulation, and claim-making can be traced. In particular, the research focused on uncertainties of weather, water, and price among cultivators, and the working of statedriven programs such crop insurance and price supports aimed at the management of these risks. It considered how farmers — alongside insurers, traders, and government agents — confront uncertainty, and the political and moral economies of risk and responsibility that emerge in this context. Following the specific decisions and strategies of differentially situated cultivators (across class, caste, gender, and generation), and the anxieties and aspirations that shape them, it found that a range of ecological and social conditions, from access to irrigation to caste-based knowledge networks, shape everyday practices of engaging - assessing, avoiding, capitalizing on - risk. Further, it shows that emerging risk-management mechanisms might actually create new uncertainties and exacerbate inequalities among farmers. Moving between farms and homes, produce markets and government offices, this research analyzed the making of economies of risk across multiple scales, and their specific effects on agrarian life-worlds.