Growing Stories from IndiaReligion and the Fate of Agriculture

Growing Stories from IndiaReligion and the Fate of Agriculture

A. Whitney Sanford

Print publication date: 2012

ISBN: 9780813134123

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky


The seven chapters in this book explore the narrative dimensions of human relations with the earth and suggest that we might not only come to understand our narratives but also to employ our ecological imagination to change agricultural practices. The book uses a Hindu agricultural narrative as a framework for discussing human behavior in the context of agricultural practice because this story confronts the dilemmas of human entitlement to the earth's bounty that all agriculturalists face. The dynamics of this story and the ritual and social context of its telling during the Hindu springtime festival of Holi offer insight into forces that shape human relations with the earth and social, particularly gendered, relations among humans. Exploring this story in its broader context reveals parallel social dynamics in Indian and U.S. agrarian thought. These parallel dynamics help explain why agriculture has received relatively little attention in environmental thought and why narratives of industrial agriculture continue to be told. This book directly challenges prevailing agricultural narratives and their relationship to practice and complements dialogue within the scientific areas of restoration ecology, emerging alternative agricultures such as agroecology, and conservation biology because these endeavors assume some level of corrective intervention within ecosystems. This cross-cultural approach helps us imagine means of food production that are sustainable and equitable for multiple human and non-human communities.