Jan Ovesen, Ing-Britt Trankell, Heng Kimvan, Chen Sochoeun. 2012. Rice Farming and Microcredit in Takeo Province, Cambodia
This report is the result of a cooperation between the authors and the Cambodian microfinance institution Intean Poalroath Rongroeurng (IPR). It is a study of the conditions for rice farming and the role of microcredit in Takeo province. The study area is close to the Vietnamese border formed by the Bassac river. In this area, rice cultivation is in the process of transforming from the traditional subsistence-oriented production to commersialised production (cash-cropping) for the Vietnamese market through inofficial export across the border. The commercialised production involves dry season cultivation of fast-growing, high-yielding varieties, with continual irrigation. The costs for this production include substantial amounts of fertilizer and pesticides, as well as fees for irrigation water and fuel for pumping, and necessitates investments in hand-tractors and water pumps. Generally, the production costs amount to about two thirds of the value of the harvest. State agricultural extension services are rudimentary, and the government has left the running and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure to private entrepreneurs, which makes it impossible for the farmers to lower their production costs. In this neoliberal order, the farmers therefore require recurrent inputs of capital, and microcredit fills this niche. Micro-loans are given against collateral in land, so the landless and land-poor are excluded from such credit. Report in PDF.
Jan Ovesen & Ing-Britt Trankell. 2010. Cambodians and Their Doctors: A Medical Anthropology of Colonial and Post-Colonial Cambodia
At face value, this book is about medicine in Cambodia over the last hundred years. At the same time, however, by using ‘medicine’ (in the sense of ideas, practices and institutions relating to health and illness) as a prism through which to view colonial and post-colonial Cambodian society more generally, it offers an historical and contemporary anthropology of the nation of Cambodia. Rich in ethnographic detail derived from both contemporary anthropological fieldwork and colonial archival material, the study is an account of the simultaneous presence in Cambodia of two medical traditions: the modern, biomedical one first introduced by the French colonial power at the turn of the twentieth century, and the indigenous Khmer health cosmology. In their reliance on one or the other of the two traditions, to a large extent the Khmer people have been concerned to find efficient medical treatment that also adheres to social norms (not least the emphasis on the morality of social relations). This concern is also evident in the prevailing medical pluralism in Cambodia today. The authors trace the interaction (and lack thereof) between these two traditions from the French colonial period via the political upheavals of the 1970s through to the present day. The result is more than a medical anthropology; this is a key text that also makes a significant contribution to the anthropological study of Cambodian society at large and will be an important resource for development planners and aid workers in medical and related fields. More information.
Hagberg, Sten & Charlotta Widmark (eds) 2009. Ethnographic Practice and Public Aid: Methods and Meanings in Development Cooperation.
The ambition of this collection of essays is to explore the interface of anthropology and development with a particular focus on what anthropologists involved in public aid and development cooperation do in terms of theory, method and ethnography. There are a limited number of contexts in which anthropologists are consulted in development work, which in turn affect the anthropologists’ positioning. Common to these essays is that they offer analyses of the different locations – e.g. advisory positions, ministerial policy work, academic in consultation assignment, field officer, programme officer at HQ – from which anthropology and anthropologists engage with development. Aimed at an audience of academics and students as well as development practitioners and policy makers, the essays in this book reflect upon anthropological practice in development contexts to explore new forms of anthropological engagement. More information.
Hugh Beach, Dmitri Funk & Lennard Sillanpää (eds) 2009. Post-Soviet Transformations: Politics of Ethnicity and Resource Use in Russia.
In this book, a new generation of Russian and Russian-oriented anthropologists explores the repercussions of the demise of the Soviet State through a number of case studies in some of the more peripheral parts of the Russian Federation. Socialism is far from dead, and capitalism is not necessarily a healthy cure for the small ethnic minorities struggling to subsist after the withdrawal of Soviet infrastructure and support. Soviet structures remain in new garb, old and new economic relations mix and merge into unique transformations, and ethnicities mobilize their efforts for recognition and special resource rights. From the articles in this anthology one can, for example, learn of ways modern shamans gain authenticity by connecting to a past heritage largely destroyed by Soviet policies. One can come to understand differences of walrus hunting techniques between two Chukchi coastal villages. A number of articles will explore the strategy of ethnic identification and its complex ramifications for special access to natural resources. This collection of articles will appeal especially to northern-oriented anthropological professionals with an interest in post-Soviet Russia. It should also fascinate the layperson, and give ample return for any passing discomfort due to sudden immersion into unfamiliar Russian ethnography. More information.