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The Remains of Agriculture: Agrarian Projects, Livelihoods, and Landscape in East Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Island

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Title: The Remains of Agriculture: Agrarian Projects, Livelihoods, and Landscape in East Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Island
Authors: Milne, Nicole
Keywords: Hawaiʿi
amenity migrants
Issue Date: Dec 2016
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2016]
Abstract: This dissertation considers the role of diversified agriculture in the post-plantation rural landscape of Hawaiʿi County, Hawaiʿi, by examining the intersection between Hawaiʿi‟s agrarian discourse with the realities of agricultural livelihoods and lifestyles in East Hawaiʿi. It uses a political ecology approach to examine how broader structural and discursive processes at the regional level work to shape local actor‟s interactions with their environment, and in turn how place-based processes work to influence the larger agrarian discourse and approaches to resource-based issues. This work is based on two years of field work in East Hawaiʿi, Hawaiʿi County, and an additional five years working in the agriculture industry as a farm laborer and agricultural business developer. This research seeks to understand the disproportionate social and ideological significance the industry has to state and county policy makers and rural residents, given its relatively low contribution to the Hawaiʿi‟s overall economy. This work highlights the opportunities and challenges of re-creating an agricultural industry in Hawaiʿi through an examination of land-based projects initiated by large landowners in East Hawaiʿi, including the State Department of Agriculture and the County of Hawaiʿi. It finds that the push to create a diversified agricultural economy in East Hawaiʿi has largely been a socio-political project of major landowners, with their agricultural initiatives having several intended and unintended consequences for rural communities. This work suggests that Hawaiʿi Island‟s new diversified agricultural industry was largely not born from a demand for agricultural land or a demand for locally-grown food, however as the familiarity and popularity of local food increases, and agriculture becomes a desirable occupation and lifestyle, the industry in East Hawaiʿi, and across the state, is beginning to grow. Consequently, the re-creation (or creation) of an agrarian economy in East Hawaiʿi – reliant upon the slow and steady development of markets, infrastructure, and human capacity – would benefit from a shift in how we define and understand „agriculture‟ in a Hawaiʿi context, toward one that accounts for diverse agricultural economies, the role of all rural residents in shaping a new agrarian future, and the unique evolution of Hawaiʿi‟s rural places.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Geography

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