Navigating regulations creatively: traditional ecological knowledge facing EU visions of sustainability
(National University of Political Studies and Public Administration Bucharest)
Bogdan Iancu (National School of Political Studies and Public Administration Bucharest Museum of Romanian Peasant)
Paper short abstract:
In a semi-subsistence type of farming specific to highland Romania, pasture and hay-meadow management is organised as creative resistance to the bureaucratic agri-ecological pedagogy of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Paper long abstract:
In a semi-subsistence type of farming specific to highland Romania, the survival of mountain farmers depends on agri-environmental payments available under the Common Agricultural Policy, which have become a key source of income for households in marginal rural communities. By following pasture and haymeadow management in semi-subsistence households in a highland northern Romania village, the paper examines the struggles of local peasants to adjust their traditional practices and economic strategies to the system of agro-environmental subsidies. A disconnection arises between locals' knowledge and policy makers' pedagogy, paired with an area of miscommunication between local farmers and bureaucrats and reciprocal misunderstanding of the roles, the instruments, the rationality and goals of each. The paper explores how these disconnections instigate farmers to identify 'grey areas' where they can act out their resistance to those aspects of the regulations perceived as intrusive, abusive and/or unnecessary. Various forms of adaptation arise from this attempt to mediate the two types of land management norms and hybrid forms of management begin to shape. The analysis focuses on those cases in which the farmers are willing to have a limited participation to the subsidy-based agricultural system but without giving up their decision-making prerogatives and the use of their specific knowledge.
Traditional knowledge as the key for sustainable rural development: utopia or reality?