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Transforming Agricultural Practice: Hindu Narrative and the Moral Imagination

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The environmental degradation and social dislocations caused by industrial agriculture have created an urgency to rethink food production and consumption. The proliferation of farmers markets is one example of the public response to perceived problems with the existing food system, however the bewildering array of food choices suggest a need for new guidelines for food and agriculture. This paper asks how expanding the moral imagination through narrative can help us rethink human behavior in the context of agricultural practice. Agriculture is an inherently relational, and rethinking practice means revisiting metaphors and narratives that guide behavior in the biotic community. I use a Hindu agricultural narrative to think through existing practices and the narratives contexts. This story does not romanticize human relations with nature, but instead reflects power dynamics in human (and particularly gendered) relationships, and, more important, in human interactions in the biotic community. My analysis considers relevant tropes and themes, e.g. citizenship and community, so that we can ask "what stories about agriculture do we tell ourselves?" and "what stories might we be telling?" to address the current agrarian crises.


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Affiliations: 1: Religion Department, University of Florida, USA


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