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Changing Farming Lives in South India, Past and Present

Women farmer welcome project team image

Women farmers welcome project team

A Collaborative Project

The project brings an original arts and humanities perspective to the crucial development challenges of food security, biodiversity, and climate adaptation faced by small and marginal farmers.

Focussing on South India, it explores the potential of history, film, and sound, to document and support small farmer creativity in developing resilience to these livelihood challenges.

The project contributes to the concept of ‘inclusive innovation’ pioneered by International Development at the OU and aims to

  • establish a long-term collaborative research network highlighting the salience of arts and humanities approaches to these development challenges
  • highlight the importance of women farmers’ knowledge of biodiversity in achieving the goal of food security
  • bring new indigenous voices from poorer communities into debates on sustainable development/livelihoods
  • promote the broader global relevance and recognition of these creative local  development initiatives
  • demonstrate the significance of historical perspectives in understanding social change and development issues
  • contribute fresh cultural insights on, and new meanings to, the concepts of ‘resilience’ and ‘development’.

Changing Farming Lives is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK, and involves a partnership between researchers in the UK and the NGO Green Foundation in India. The research has enabled women farmers in the district of Ramanagara, Karnataka, to share for the first time their memories, ideas, and knowledges about food and farming practices. These can be found in the Oral History and Women Talk on Film sections of the website. An article about the research titled ‘Our grandmother used to sing whilst weeding: oral histories, millet food culture, and farming rituals amongst women smallholders in Ramanagara district, Karnataka’ has been published in Modern Asian Studies.

South India Faminie map

Map of South India showing famine of 1876-8, Report of the Indian Famine Commission, Parliamentary Papers vol LII, 1880.

Image credit: British Library