Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Faculty of Social Sciences
Sustainable and Multifunctional Agriculture Policy Development in Israel and its Social Implications
Sustainable agriculture (SA) has recently been introduced to Israel. Relevant for strategies of rural development and environment protection at large, it now gains more attention from government officials than before, and is promoted by a growing field of environmental NGO’s.
The proposed research explores the social-environmental interface between the burgeoning principles of SA and the local realities of agriculture in Israel. Examining the performance of agricultural regulators and environmentalists in relation to this interface, it seeks to make a contribution to the anthropology of rural issues and the environment in Israel, to help find ways that reconcile interests of various agricultural groups; to assist in implementing SA on the ground, and to contribute to the conversation with current works on the national policies of sustainability and anthropology of the state mechanisms.
The expanding field of sustainable agriculture (SA), now a standard component of agricultural developmental policies in the EU and beyond, is a direct outcome of the rise, since the mid 1990’s, of the concept of sustainable development (UN, 1992). Following decades of indiscriminate growth of industrial agriculture in both developed and developing countries, a new awareness has emerged of agriculture’s social and environmental impacts. (FAO, 1997; Zaban et al, 2004; Domon, 2011).
The examination of SA and rural development policy programs across the western world has shown that environmental aspects of agriculture were firstly taken care of and only thereafter measures for social sustainably and welfare. Therefore appropriate policy tools were developed mainly in countries with greater experience in SA policies, such as Canada and the European Common Policy (CAP) (Wilson, 2007;Halland et al, 2011; Daugstad et al, 2006; Pilgeram, 2011).
The discourse of SA intersects with agriculture and rural settlement policies in Israel at an intriguing historical juncture. Long defined by the national struggle between Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, agricultural practice and rural settlement have long been sites where competing narratives, attachment to the homeland, physical presence in it, defense of its historic patrimony and claims to an identity anchored in it are played out.
The proposed research will explore the interface between the burgeoning principles of SA and the socio-political realities of agriculture, peripheral settlement and environmental care in Israel and its current and potential implications on agriculture.
The Research and its contribution
The project could make significant contributions to at least three fields of knowledge. One is anthropological research of local agriculture in Israel, a field which drew considerable social scientific attention until the 1980s, and which became peripheral as rural areas were encroached upon by rapid suburbanization.
Second, social research on sustainable agriculture indicate that the discourse and its practical application are having considerable impact on agricultural policy and their implementation (Fresco. 2008; Jarvell, 2003; Renting et al, 2009; Rizov, 2005). The research could become a pioneering study of this interface in Israel, and could provide an important breakthrough in the understanding of socio-political implications of sustainable development in Israel highlighting the tensions between such policies and interest groups.
Finally, the research could contribute to the theoretical corpus and policy programs, regarding SA and rural development. Moreover, highlighting the social context and socio-cultural implications of SA discourse has a clear theoretical value that could contribute towards developing new policy tools, in Israel and beyond while conversing with current works on anthropology of the state mechanisms, agriculture and the environment.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Dan Rabinowitz