Cornell University

Making Sense of Rural Asia: Three puzzles, two problems and a challenge - Jonathan Rigg, University of Bristol

Friday, September 6, 2019 at 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Warren Hall, B73

Speaker: Jonathan Rigg, Geography, University of Bristol

Abstract: In this presentation, I bring together recent research in Thailand and Vietnam, to illuminate and seek to explain three puzzles, two problems and a challenge that have currency across both countries, and (I suggest) the wider Asian region. The three puzzles are: Why don’t people sell their land when farming barely delivers an adequate living? Why do we see the disintensification of farming when land and labour conditions suggest intensification? Why does rural poverty continue to fall and material livelihoods improve when landholdings are increasingly sub-livelihood? The two significant problems that arise from these puzzles, are: how will farming modernise when farms remain so small? How will farming be sustained when farmers are rapidly ageing? These puzzles and associated problems then raise a grand challenge: How do we feed the (Asian) world? In sum, I will argue that we tend to ask the wrong questions, of the wrong analytical units, with the wrong set of assumptions about development conditions. It is by changing our analytical mind-set that we can solve the puzzles, address the problems, and meet the challenge.

Co-sponsored by Southeast Asia Program

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Event Type

Lecture, Seminar


Department of Development Sociology (DSOC), Southeast Asia Program


dsoc, devsoc



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Sarah Day


Jonathan Rigg

Speaker Affiliation

University of Bristol

Dept. Web Site

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