Disintegration, Formalisation or Reinvention? Contemplating the Future of Balinese Irrigated Rice Societies

Rachel Lorenzen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Bali's rice production is organised in units called subak with compulsory membership for farmers who grow rice. The future of this highly productive system generating some of the highest yields across Indonesia is under threat. Urbanisation, rural diversification and tourism are encroaching on the immaculately groomed rice terraces, undermining a centuries-old sociocultural institution which, interwoven with kinship, neighbourhood and congregation groups, shapes Balinese society. Nonetheless, rice farming remains a vital source of income for many and rice the most important staple food. This predicament raises questions about the future of farmers' livelihoods, the subak, its cultural heritage and rice production in Bali. The author contemplates possible trajectories by developing three scenarios: (1) disintegration; (2) formalisation; and (3) reinvention. The resulting structured narratives are not forecasts but may encourage discussion of the place and value of the subak and local rice supply in the Balinese economy and society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)176-193
    JournalThe Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology
    Volume16
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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