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Lost in translation: incomer organic farmers, local knowledge, and the revitalization of upland Japanese hamlets

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  • Steven McGreevy

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    Abstract

    Upland Japan suffers from extreme depopulation, aging, and loss of agricultural, economic, and social viability. In addition, the absence of a successor generation in many marginalized hamlets endangers the continuation of local knowledge associated with upland agricultural livelihoods and severely limits the prospects of rural revitalization and development. Resettlement by incomer organic farmers represents an opportunity to both pass on valuable local knowledge and rejuvenate local society. Survey and interview data are used to explore the knowledge dynamics at play in upland Japan between local and incomer organic farmers. Using a “knowledge culture” framework, socio-cultural and symbolic barriers and spatial conditions limiting local knowledge exchange are identified and analyzed. Despite a number of reasons to suggest affinity and natural alignment toward knowledge sharing, each group’s ideas of “legitimate knowledge” and acceptable behavior have contested the field of communication and confused the negotiation process. Building on previous studies of farmer’s knowledge networks, examples in this study suggest that negotiation between knowledge cultures can be facilitated by both active means and intrinsic factors, and be derailed because of physical and temporal symbolic references. The degree to which locals and incomers collaborate and identify with each other as stakeholders with a common future may determine the extent to which local knowledge, especially local knowledge from past agricultural regimes, can play a role within upland endogenous development. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10460-011-9347-5
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Agriculture and Human Values.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 393-412

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:29:y:2012:i:3:p:393-412

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    Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/10460

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    Related research

    Keywords: Japan; Knowledge dynamics; Local knowledge; Rural revitalization; Rural resettlement; Organic farming;

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    1. Jenkins, T. N., 2000. "Putting postmodernity into practice: endogenous development and the role of traditional cultures in the rural development of marginal regions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 301-313, September.
    2. Jeffery Bentley, 2006. "Folk experiments," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 451-462, December.
    3. Julie Ingram, 2008. "Agronomist–farmer knowledge encounters: an analysis of knowledge exchange in the context of best management practices in England," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 405-418, September.
    4. R A Jussaume, 1998. "Globalization, agriculture, and rural social change in Japan," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 30(3), pages 401-413, March.
    5. Andrew Raedeke & J. Rikoon, 1997. "Temporal and spatial dimensions of knowledge: Implications for sustainable agriculture," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 145-158, June.
    6. Julia Nerbonne & Ralph Lentz, 2003. "Rooted in grass: Challenging patterns of knowledge exchange as a means of fostering social change in a southeast Minnesota farm community," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 65-78, March.
    7. Mohammad Khaledi & Simon Weseen & Erin Sawyer & Shon Ferguson & Richard Gray, 2010. "Factors Influencing Partial and Complete Adoption of Organic Farming Practices in Saskatchewan, Canada," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 58(1), pages 37-56, 03.
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