To focus on the Seed sovereignty movement (Beej swaraj), specifically the Bt Brinjal see row in India. Ecological activist group Navdanya (Vandana Shiva) was a major player in this movement. The movement followed the principles of Mahatma Gandhi's Salt Satyagraha movement. It stake was to stand up against Seed Laws and Patent Laws that seek to make sharing and saving of seed a crime by making seed the "Property" of companies like Monsanto, forcing farmers to pay royalties for what is the collective heritage (Use Boyle's conception of romantic author).
Among the wide range of actors, I want to focus specifically on the farmers, how they construct themselves as actors, what are their ideologies. How they conceive certain specific objective and how their objective differ based on locales. (Use Tsing (2005) notion of scales)
How do activists with different scales (created around certain local and specific meaning) use universal rhetoric to mange and device coalitions? How do encounters across differences exceed boundaries to transform consciousness?
Slide 2- Notes
Farm saved seeds were replaced by corporate seeds. A free resource available on farms became a commodity. In 1993 half a million Indian peasants pledge to resist classification of seeds as private property.
However, victorious struggle for neem, basmati rice and Indian wheat reclaimed collective biology and
intellectual heritage as commons. Neem tree activism (movement mobilized and built at the local levels) and its success laid the path for other activism like basmati rice, Indian wheat. Neem victory brought to the forefront that most patents are based on the appropriation of indigenous knowledge, which violates the basic criteria of patent (novelty, nonobviousness, utility) as they range from direct piracy to minor tinkering involving steps obvious to anyone trained in the techniques and disciplines involved.
A more recent activism is the Bt Brinjal Seeds row.
Vandana Shiva in her book Earth Democracy talks about going beyond divisions and collectively creating the possibility of creating a post globalization world. But as Tsing pointed out this gives power to globalization as the cost of the people who are the real actors. Therefore, my focus on studying the scale making at the grass root level.
I plan to do discourse analysis of news published regarding the activism. India being an Agrarian community there is a wide difference in language, ideology between farmers from different geographical
area. I will use community newspapers example Deccan Herald (Southern India) and Ganasakti (Eastern
India). I will look at three mainstream English language national newspapers in India: The Times of India, The Hindu, and The Indian Express to understand the activism at the national level. I will analyze articles from August 2009 to July 2012. I am choosing this time frame as during this time the controversy regarding
Monsanto's illegally use of Indian brinjal seeds to create GM seeds came into prominence, which triggered country wide uprising, questioning to reconsider patent law.
Slide 3- Notes
In the claim to invention of traditional knowledge it is necessary to understand Boyle's notion of romantic author and how the concept of traditional knowledge, too, is a modern invention. Although India's IP act
Geographical Indication is seen as a potentially important source of recognition and income for India's rural poor, who have been displaced and forced further into poverty by globalization, the Act protects only those goods or processes whose quality or reputation are exclusive to a specific region and neglecting other regions that even though produces similar products but lacks in reputation.
I will use Tsing's scales to chart how individual actors form and attain agency, how images are formed and what ideologies are embedded in those images. Ideas that are formulated via those agencies and how ideas are mobilized to bring about consciousness. How peasants from different geographical locales come
together in social activism even when they each differ in their specific personal objective.
As Madhavi Sunder (2007) stated, "The poor must be recognized as both receivers and producers of knowledge" (p. 124) I intend to find how the actions and inactions of farmers at different scales challenge the failure of IP laws and point at the corporate misuse.