ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Barbara Harriss-WhiteSubscribe to Barbara Harriss-White

Commercialisation, Commodification and Gender Relations in Post-Harvest Systems for Rice in South Asia

When the output of a product that forms the basis of subsistence and social reproduction - as rice is for Asia - expands, the marketed surplus rises disproportionately to the growth rate of production. This implies that activities that once formed part and parcel of household labour activity (performed by women - even if under the control of men) also become commercialised. Food security depends not only on the market, but also on the social and political structures within which markets are situated. One of these social structures is gender. Two aspects of this gendered process are explored in this essay, the first being 'productive deprivation'. Using field evidence from south Asia, the impact of technological change is shown to be strongly net labour displacing and strongly biased against female labour. At the same time, poverty ensures the persistence of petty commodity production, where women are either self-employed or 'unwaged' family workers. As seen in the case of rice production in West Bengal, growth in production has been accompanied by the displacement of women from the rice mill labour forces in which economies of scale have been pitched against unwaged work in petty production.

Sonar Bangla- Agricultural Growth and Agrarian Change in West Bengal and Bangladesh

Drawing on papers presented in a workshop held in Calcutta in January 1995, this article reports on debates over the nature of the relationships between agrarian structure, agricultural growth and the state in West Bengal and Bangladesh. It scrutinises reports of rapid agricultural growth in West Bengal (and less spectacular but still significant agricultural growth in Bangladesh) since the early 1980s and expands the concept of structure to include structures of commerce, of bureaucracies, of exchange arrangements in land water and labour, as well as changing ideologies of gender, caste and ethnicity, The local impact of the West Bengal Left Front government's agrarian reforms (including Panchayati Raj) are also analysed and trends in poverty in the two Bengals since 1980 are examined.

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