The Rhetoric of Shifting Agriculture: Perspectives from Indonesia and Mexico
The consensus that human interactions with the environment need to be more responsible, and, alternatives to current development and agricultural practices need to be implemented worldwide is apparent in today’s research literature. The numbers of non-profit organizations and government agencies dedicated to human rights, conservation of natural resources, cultural empowerment, and community development are greater than ever. Yet many of these projects and programs have difficulty in accomplishing their project objectives and goals. The rhetoric of shifting agriculture exemplifies this condition. With more than 40 years of research, the benefits and threats of shifting agriculture continue to be tackled as if they are new concepts. Such science perspectives do not remain isolated, but form the basis of policy decisions for controlling deforestation, such as Laos’ 1996 land policy resolution. Many conservation efforts ignore the diversity in culture, language and country, but also within apparently homogenous communities. Indigenous communities of both Indonesian Borneo (East Kalimantan) and Mexico (Calakmul, Campeche) employ shifting agricultural practices considered unsustainable in most research literature. However, these communities have developed multiple strategies for long-term environmental protection. The authors maintain that for effective ecosystem management, researchers and policy makers at local, state, federal levels need to understand and mediate both the human and the biological factors that drive ecological change, as well as the interactions between them.
Keywords: shifting agriculture rhetoric; community development; environmental perception
Ms Veronique Rorive
Academic Coordinator, Center for Conservation Biology, University of California at Riverside
Dr Stacey Sowards
Professor, Department of Communication, University of Texas at El Paso