Farmers as Bodies-in-the-Field, Becoming-With Rice

TitleFarmers as Bodies-in-the-Field, Becoming-With Rice
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsLeung K.Y., Darnhofer I.
Date Published8 July 2021
Type of ArticleOpen Access
Keywordsnew materialism; posthumanism; relations; embodiment; affect; Japan

Research on farmers has predominately focused on how they think through the mind, i.e., their reflexivity regarding farming practices and values, as well as their cultural and symbolic representations of farming. While this literature offers valuable insights, it builds on an underlying mind/body duality. Based on qualitative interviews with 25 rice farmers in Japan, this paper focuses on the body of farmers, in terms of how bodily senses shape how farmers make sense of their farming practices. We show that the body, as the site of interaction with matter, shapes the farmers’ ability to be affected by rice plants. By honing their senses, the farmers learn to make differences and to perceive new possibilities, engaging in a reciprocal process of becoming-with the rice. This ability to develop sensuous engagements may contribute to farmers developing production practices that are in harmony with the local agro-ecosystem and more generally enable new imaginations, strengthening the possibility that things could be otherwise.