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Boserup Backwards? Agricultural intensification as ‘its own driving force’ in the Mbulu Highlands, Tanzania
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.
2007 (English)In: Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, ISSN 0435-3684, Vol. 89B, no 3, 249-267 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Why do farmers intensify their agricultural practices? Recent revisions of African environmental historiographies have greatly enriched our understanding of human–environmental interactions. To simply point at poor farming practices as the main cause of deforestation, desertification and other processes of land degradation is, for example, no longer possible. The contemporary analytical focus is instead on the complex and often unpredictable set of causal relations between societal, ecological and climatic factors.

In the literature on agricultural intensification, conventionally defined driving forces, such as population pressure and market demand, remain important explanatory factors despite a growing body of research that suggests more dynamic scenarios of agricultural development and landscape change. This article reports on a case where the common-sense logic of population pressure theory has dominated the historical narrative of a local process of agricultural intensification among an agro-pastoral people in north-central Tanzania. By way of a ‘detailed participatory landscape analyses’ a more complex and dynamic historical process of intensification is suggested, in which the landscape and the process of agricultural intensification itself are in focus.

It is concluded that the accumulation of landesque capital has been incremental in character, and that the process of agricultural intensification in the study area has largely been its own driving force based on self-reinforcing processes of change, and not a consequence of land scarcity and population pressure. This result demonstrates the possibility and usefulness of reversing the Boserupian argument in analyses of agricultural intensification.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 89B, no 3, 249-267 p.
Keyword [en]
landscape, agricultural intensification, incremental change, landesque capital, detailed mapping, participatory mapping, Iraqw
National Category
Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-10921ISI: 000248915400005OAI: diva2:177440
Available from: 2008-01-08 Created: 2008-01-08 Last updated: 2011-01-11Bibliographically approved

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