IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Dialectics of disassembly: heifer-care protocols and the alienation of value in a village dairy cooperative

  • Tad Mutersbaugh
  • Lauren Martin
Registered author(s):

    This paper examines ‘protocols’—instructions that inform project recipients about how technology is to be used. Our case study of ‘heifer-care’ protocols associated with a microdairy scheme raises two questions. First, we ask how these protocols effect a disassembly of social relations within the village—‘poisoning’ them, as coop members put it. Second, we raise the question of persistence: namely, how were village participants in the microdairy cooperative able to continue for over fifteen years despite a failure to produce milk and the deleterious effects upon village social relations? To address this paradox, we examine protocols from the standpoints of both science and technology studies (STS) and labor-process studies(LPS). STS supply a ‘boundary object’ concept that helps to explain protocol persistence; LPS provide a theory of alienation that furthers our understanding of how protocols alienate labor—via a spatiotemporal dislocation of value—and shape coop members’ subjective experience of development. By joining these theories, we hope to provide insights into the operations of protocols and suggest a theoretical liaison between STS and LPS that would provide STS with a better theory of subjective experience and LPS theory with an improved poststructuralist framing. As a matter of praxis, we also show how coop members recognize, in time, the mechanisms through which value is dislocated and respond by reworking their engagements with NGOs to capture a share of the value produced by their labor. Keywords: cooperatives, companion species, political ecology, STS, labor process studies, political economy, alienation, assemblage, rent theory, Mexico-Oaxaca

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    File Function: abstract
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: Fulltext access restricted to subscribers, see for details

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Pion Ltd, London in its journal Environment and Planning A.

    Volume (Year): 44 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 (March)
    Pages: 723-740

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:3:p:723-740
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:3:p:723-740. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Neil Hammond)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.