Epic narratives of the Green Revolution in Brazil, China, and India

Agriculture and Human Values 39 (1):249-267 (2021)
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Abstract

The Green Revolution is often seen as epitomising the dawn of scientific and technological advancement and modernity in the agricultural sector across developing countries, a process that unfolded from the 1940s through to the 1980s. Despite the time that has elapsed, this episode of the past continues to resonate today, and still shapes the institutions and practices of agricultural science and technology. In Brazil, China, and India, narratives of science-led agricultural transformations portray that period in glorifying terms—entailing pressing national imperatives, unprecedented achievements, and heroic individuals or organizations. These “epic narratives” draw on the past to produce meaning and empower the actors that deploy them. Epic narratives are reproduced over time and perpetuate a conviction about the heroic power of science and technology in agricultural development. By crafting history and cultivating a sense of scientific nationalism, exceptionalism, and heritage, these epic narratives sustain power-knowledge relations in agricultural science and technology, which are underpinned by a hegemonic modernization paradigm. Unravelling the processes of assemblage and reproduction of epic narratives helps us make sense of how science and technology actors draw on their subjective representations of the past to assert their position in the field at present. This includes making claims about their credentials to envision and deliver sustainable solutions for agriculture into the future.

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