Expectations of Obsolescence and the Adaptive Capacity of Irrigated Agriculture in Central Arizona
Dr. Hallie Eakin
School of Sustainability, Arizona State University
RCI Seminar Co-sponsored with the Department of Geography as part of their department speaker series.
Irrigated agriculture is at the heart of the history and identity of the American Southwest, although the future of agriculture is now threatened by the prospect of “mega-droughts,” declining hydrological flows, urbanization and associated inter-sector and inter-state competition over water in an era of climatic change. In face of such changes, some scholars argue that incremental adaptation will not be enough to avoid negative outcomes: many natural resource-based populations require additional capacities – often called transformational capacities – to respond to altered livelihood opportunities. Just what those capacities are, and how well they will predict a population’s ability to alter directions and strategies in face of significant change, are only now being explored. In this talk, I will present some initial findings on the attributes associated with farm-level capacity in central Arizona, United States. Drawing from survey data, interviews and document analysis, I explore the cross-level dimensions of capacity in the rural-urban nexus of central Arizona. We find that the irrigated commodity producers in the region demonstrate some degree of foresight, entrepreneurship and flexibility, all consistent with capacities for land use and livelihood transformation. Nevertheless, their confidence in their own ability to manage climatic and hydrological change into the future is surprisingly uncertain, suggesting that the capacities that have been effective in the past may not necessarily extend to evolving hydroclimatic risk. We turn to the institutional context of production in Central Arizona to understand the linkages among cognitive attributes of capacity, and the choice sets and expectations of farmers. The research highlights the interaction of both endogenous and exogenous pressures for transformation, and the role of institutions in influencing how we understand what transformation is or could be.
Flyer available Flyer Hallie Eakin.
Lucy Stone Hall, Room B-115, Livingston Campus, Rutgers University
Reception to Follow