1 Reencountering Development: Livelihood Transitions and Place Transformations in the Andes Anthony Bebbington Department of Geography, University of Colorado at Boulder Neither poststructural nor neoliberal interpretations of development capture the full extent and complexity of rural transformations in the Andes. Poststructural critiques tend to view development as a process of cultural destruction and homogenization, while neoliberal interpretations identify a different development failure that inheres in inefficient patterns of resource use, and the nonviability of large parts of the Andean peasantry. In each case, the state is seen as a problem: as an agent of dominating modernization, or as a brake on market-led transformation. The paper reviews these positions in the light of the transformations in governance, livelihoods, and landscape that have occurred in the regions of Colta, Guamote, and Otavalo, all centers of indigenous Quichua populations in the Ecuadorian Andes. These transformations question the accuracy of arguments about cultural destruction or nonviability. Instead they suggest that people have built economically viable livelihood strategies that, while neither agricultural nor necessarily rural, allow people to sustain a link with rural places, and in turn allow the continued reproduction of these places as distinctively Quichua. The cases also point to the increased indigenous control of political, civil, and economic institutions and the important roles that development interventions, including those of the state, have played in fostering this control. In sum, this suggests the need for more nuanced interpretations of development that emphasize human agency and the room to maneuver that can exist within otherwise constraining institutions and structures. It also suggests the value of placing livelihood and the coproduction of place at the center of any interpretation of the processes and effects of rural development. Key Words: critical development geography, livelihood, place, Andes, social movements. Whether seen as pioneering, biting, or an opportunity lost, (respectively, Peet and Watts 1996b: 17; Cooper and Packard 1997: 15; Lehmann 1997: 568) Arturo Escobar s work (1984, 1988, 1991, 1995) has stirred the worlds of critical geography and development studies. 1 Emblematic of a broader poststructural critique of development, Escobar s analysis falls within a long and distinguished tradition that sees little possibility of improvements in human well-being without radical political economic change. His work questions the possibility of building or even imagining alternatives from within the current languages and institutions of development. 2 Indeed, it suggests that these very institutions and languages are deeply implicated in processes of cultural destruction. Poststructural critiques are not alone in posing profound and critical questions about rural development and its official institutions. Neoliberal interpretations similarly see little cumulative benefit from state intervention in rural areas. In much of Latin America, such approaches increasingly argue that large parts of the peasantry (or campesinado) are no longer viable in the face of a globalizing market economy. Thus, while, in the poststructuralist critique, the state and development are viewed as the aggressive agents of modernization, according to neoliberal critiques, they have largely stood in the way of the transformative and modernizing potential of the market. This leads to recommendations for further liberalization of market-based resource allocation from the constraints placed on it by state and customary institutions. That such liberalization would fuel a redistribution of rural resources (especially land and water) to more competitive and larger economic agents, and a Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 90(3), 2000, p by Association of American Geographers Published by Blackwell Publishers, 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, and 108 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1JF, UK.
2 496 Bebbington concomitant movement of campesinos out of agriculture and rural areas, is deemed desirable on efficiency grounds. While empirically and normatively dubious, such interpretations command far more political influence than do poststructural ones. This makes it that much more important to build a counternarrative that meets them on their own turf while questioning many of their suppositions on conceptual and empirical grounds. Yet in this sense, poststructural positions are troublesome. By finding so little that is recoverable within the practice of development, by failing to address in any detail the economic dimensions of alternatives, and above all, by not exploring the diversity of development processes and outcomes, they fail to develop the empirical bases of a possible counternarrative. Furthermore, when subjected to empirical interrogation, the categorical assertions of such positions appear overstated, in turn suggesting theoretical weaknesses. As a result, and however unintentionally, they cede ground to neoliberal interpretations and the types of programs that might derive from them. That poststructural critiques give little attention to alternatives and leave so little space for a continuing dialogue with the development experience to date is largely a consequence of their emphasis on discursive critique. 3 Interpretations of development, and its alternatives, might differ if they were based on ethnographic and historical analyses of the ways in which development interventions and market transactions become part of a longer, sedimented history of a place and its linkages with the wider world (Moore 1999; Massey 1994). Indeed, if we look at histories of places, rather than of discourses, and trace actual processes of livelihood and landscape transformation and the institutional interventions that have accompanied them, it becomes easier to identify elements of feasible development alternatives. Germs of these alternatives have already been elaborated at the intersection of popular practices and external interventions, albeit in quite unanticipated ways. In this sense, I will use discussions of regional transformations in highland Ecuador to point to problems (as well as strengths) in the normative positions and analytical tools of both neoliberal and poststructural interpretations. These observations will provide a basis for building theory that draws on insights of each type of interpretation, and that helps identify ways forward for a far more geographical theory of development revolving around notions of place and livelihood. Indeed, the implication is that a more comprehensive development theory has to be built at the interface of geography and history. To make these claims, the first section of the paper lays out elements of recent poststructural and neoliberal interpretations of rural development in the Andean region, subjecting them to critical scrutiny on conceptual grounds. 4 The second section then subjects these interpretations to empirical scrutiny through a comparative analysis of regional transformations in three localities in highland Ecuador: Colta, Guamote, and Otavalo. It quickly becomes apparent that it is impossible to judge the development experience of these places through the blunt interpretations of either type of critique. These are places where outmigration and land-degradation have been accompanied by increased indigenous control of everything from municipal government, to regional textile markets, to bus companies. They are places where increased consumption of modern commodities has come together with the emergence of assertive and ever more ethnically self-conscious social organizations. More generally, as the economic geography of these regions has changed, so new and changing cultural practices have also been played out, creating landscapes that continue to be distinctive, and indeed alternative to modern capitalist landscapes even as they incorporate many ideas, practices, and technologies of modernity. The third section teases out certain patterns across these cases. Overall, profound transformations in the social relations that structure access to resources and power have accompanied and contributed to the development of these places. So also has a progressive expansion of grassroots influence and control over the processes through which these places are produced and governed. These changes appear to be as much a result of the external interventions of state programs, NGOs, and churches as they are an effect of popular initiative. The transformations and interventions involved are, then, too complex and contingent to be judged simply as normatively desirable or not, as success or failure, as development or destruction. They also question the accuracy of frameworks that work with relatively unitary and unproblematized notions of state, market, and community. The final section of the paper draws out implications for theory. It suggests that cases such as those discussed here lay the bases for encoun-
3 Reencountering Development 497 tering a notion of development that is at once alternative and developmentalist, critical and practicable. Indeed, this is the larger goal. Critical development research has so often been vulnerable to the charge of impracticability because its normative concerns and profound critique of mainstream notions of development have blunted empirical inquiry into whether the practice of development indeed had the effects that this critique anticipated, and whether popular practices indeed carried the germs of the same utopias as those implied by this theory. Too often this led to theory without actors (and therefore without entry points into practice), and alternatives that required forms of structural change that, in the short-to-medium terms, seemed improbable at best (Booth 1994). If research engaged with questions of practice both popular and bureaucratic it might become apparent that the goals, meaning, and power relationships underlying development often differ from those imputed by much development theory. Power, meaning, and institutions are constantly being negotiated, and these negotiations open up spaces for potentially profound social and institutional change. Understanding how these spaces open and how they are used is a critical research challenge, and will take us beyond some of the oppositions that haunt much development theory. Critiques of Development in the Andes The analytical tools and normative concerns of poststructural and neoliberal critiques of development (critiques that Cooper and Packard [1997: 2 3] term, respectively, postmodernist and ultramodernist ) differ profoundly. At one level, these differences are part of a far longstanding split in development studies between critical Marxian and sociocultural interpretations, and more developmentalist approaches informed by neoclassical economics and rational choice theory. Neoliberal approaches aim to understand the means through which resources can be most efficiently allocated to maximize their economic productivity. In their purest sense, they therefore criticize interventions that support rural producers on criteria other than competitiveness as diversions from the normative goal of efficiency maximization. In this view, people are producers and consumers of value a value assessed in monetary terms. Poststructural critiques begin from a profoundly different notion of value, and of valid knowledge. Valuing difference, they are critical of modernizing notions of development, perhaps especially neoliberalism, on the grounds that they break down difference, impose cultural homogenization, and constitute a form of domination: the project of neoliberal globalization represents the most recent of such discourses, and contains within it the attempted subordination of different modes of thought and interpretation (Slater 1997: 274). Yet ironically these critiques converge to a considerable degree around other claims: each declares that orthodox development has failed and that official development bureaucracies are deeply implicated in this failure; each relies largely on externally defined criteria to judge this failure; and each has suggested radical (as opposed to reformist) alternatives that involve a decentering of the state. 5 These alternatives derive in considerable measure from their respective theoretical frameworks, as well as their primary concerns about the failure of mainstream development practice. The poststructural critique, primarily concerned with the ways in which development constitutes a form of cultural domination and homogenization, seeks alternatives in the cultural and political practices of popular actors. The neoliberal critique, primarily concerned with the failure of development programs to foster rural growth and income generation, seeks alternatives in the efficient allocation of resources that would derive from the liberalization of markets. Cowen and Shenton (1996) suggest a yet deeper sense in which the two frameworks converge. They argue that both approaches (indeed all development doctrine) ultimately imply a notion of trusteeship, in which one actor, on the basis of their presumed privileged understanding or institutional authority, determines on behalf of others the direction in which development should proceed. In apportioning trusteeship to agents who are ultimately not the citizenry, such frameworks, they suggest, frustrate the possibility of autonomous human improvement. 6 Development as Knowledge-Power Regime: Poststructural Critiques While not alone in pursuing a critique of development informed by Foucault in particular,
4 498 Bebbington and post structural theory more generally, Escobar s has been the most sustained critical project (Escobar 1984, 1988, 1991, 1995; Watts and McCarthy 1997: 73). In essence, he claims that development represents a further elaboration of the Enlightenment project, in the process imposing Northern interests on those of the South (Escobar 1995: ; Apffel-Marglin 1998: 29; cf. Frank 1969). 7 Thus, the idea of development allows for the notion that there are people and places that are underdeveloped, backward and poor, and therefore in need of development. This labeling turns them into the targets of development programs that then intervene in order to promote a particular ethnocentric notion of what it is to be developed. These interventions aim to turn rural people into efficient producers, and if they do not make this transition, then they ought be encouraged to leave the countryside: produce or perish, Escobar puts it (1995: 157). As these instruments are not based on an understanding of the actual concerns, aspirations, and strategies of the popular sectors, they inevitably fail, but this merely he suggests justifies a further round of intervention to get it better. That there is bureaucratic complicity in development failure is argued yet more forcefully in Ferguson s (1990) study of rural development in Lesotho. Ferguson suggests that development failure serves the interests of the very institutions charged with implementing development, because their own reproduction depends on a continued official commitment to development at the same time as an official belief that it has not yet been achieved. 8 Ferguson s state, like Escobar s, seems monolithic, unable and unwilling to act in a way that does anything but depoliticize development and reproduce development failure (cf. Moore 1999). These critiques are not dissimilar from the dependency writing of the 1970s (Lehmann 1997; Watts and McCarthy 1997: 75), though their form of analysis and implications for strategy are different. Dependency writing emphasized the need for change in the wider political economy (de Janvry 1981). Poststructural critiques of development instead emphasize change at a more decentralized, local scale: 9 [T]here are no grand alternatives that can be applied to all places or all situations, and so one must resist the desire to formulate alternatives at an abstract, macro level; one must also resist the idea that the articulation of alternatives will take place in intellectual and academic circles (Escobar 1995: 222). Instead, this articulation will occur in the alternative grassroots practices that resist development, and more generally in the practices of popular groups 10 whose organizing strategies... begin to revolve more and more around two principles: the defense of cultural difference... and the valorization of economic needs and opportunities in terms that are not strictly those of profit and the market (Escobar 1995: 226). For Escobar, the defining features of the alternatives being pursued among these groups reside in the defense of the local, identity strengthening, opposition to modernizing development, and the elaboration of proposals from the context of existing constraints (1995: 226). That these are indeed the defining features of these popular practices, and that they hold out any realistic hope for feasible alternatives is, however, less substantiated. 11 In framing a view of alternatives in this way, Escobar is drawing as does much work in critical anthropologies and geographies of development on notions of the resistant peasant (cf. Scott 1985). 12 Such conceptualizations, however, have their own difficulties in particular, the tendency to essentialize about peasant motivation, and to invoke voluntaristic interpretations of cultural politics. But, as Smith (1989) has suggested, forms of peasant cultural politics are rooted deeply in the material conditions of peasant existence in the ways in which they make a living. Making a living, making living meaningful, and struggling for the rights and possibility of doing both are all related. Yet the literature on resistance and alternatives tends to detach interpretations of politics of identity and place from these livelihood practices. If they were reembedded, and if frameworks made clearer how very situated are such practices and politics, then we might anticipate forms of political behavior and responses to development that are neither necessarily resistant nor antipathetic to the logics of markets and modernity. Locality might also be conceptualized differently not as pregiven but rather as continuously produced at the intersection of livelihood practices (understood as making a living and making it meaningful), local politics, institutional interventions, and the wider political economy. Understood thus, place would be less something that people defended, and more something whose means and practices of production they aimed to control.
5 Reencountering Development 499 Such a conceptualization means foregrounding problems of livelihood and production as much as problems of politics and power and emphasizing negotiation and accommodation as much as resistance. More generally, it suggests the importance of paying more attention to agency. Poor people may be discursively constructed as objects of development (or even as subaltern subjects of resistance), 13 but they also act individually and collectively, creating their own room for maneuver within and beyond any constraints these categories may place on them. As Escobar suggests, the seeds of alternatives are most likely to be found in those actions. But those same actions, rather than presumed analytical categories, will define the contours of those alternatives and the particular ways in which they negotiate relationships with state, market, and civil society. Viable Andes? Neoliberalism and Andean Futures While the poststructural critique has assumed progressively greater force in academic debate, a quite distinct critical conversation has also emerged in Latin America: the discourse on viability. Though the steady differentiation of a peasantry into a capitalized sector on the one hand, and a landless or land-poor proletariat on the other, has absorbed many pages of debate (de Janvry 1981; Lehmann 1986; Llambi 1989; Kay 1995), the significance of this discussion has increased in recent years. Driven by the rise of neoliberal agendas, some have argued with increasing explicitness that there is little virtue in an uncompetitive and inefficient campesino sector. 14 They therefore argue that rural development programs should focus only on viable campesinos, helping them to restructure their productive strategy so as to become competitive in an open market. Those who are not deemed viable ought be assisted in making the transition to other livelihoods, most likely in urban areas (López 1995; Hojman 1998). Though voiced most explicitly in Chile, where some estimate that up to half of the peasantry is not viable (see Kay 1997; Sotomayor 1994), these discussions are equally apparent elsewhere. An InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) report, for instance, suggests that significant parts of the Bolivian altiplano [high plane] are nonviable and that programs there should foster outmigration (IDB 1996). Such interpretations have serious flaws. They read the viability of rural places only in terms of economic competitiveness, and likewise understand poverty only in income terms. As good trustees of development (cf. Cowen and Shenton 1996), their authors presume to prescribe for others prescriptions that will clearly foster the destruction of rural practices in the name of fiscal efficiency. Yet at the same time, these interpretations do point to empirically substantiated problems related to the economic dimensions of livelihoods (Mayer and Glave 1999). Studying programs of three well-respected nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the Peruvian and Bolivian highlands, van Niekerk (1994) concludes that the impact of their interventions on incomes was less than the cost of implementing the programs. Worse still, a recent study of thirteen municipalities in four departments of the Bolivian highlands suggests that 79 percent of the population perceives a decline in crop and livestock productivity, with even higher rates among poorer farmers; only a handful of communities perceived any impact from livestock or crop projects (VMPPFM 1998; cf. Zoomers 1998). Similar, if less drastic, patterns also emerge from recent surveys in Ecuador, which suggest declining agricultural income, an increased reproduction squeeze on the campesinado, and an increase in temporary migration, with between twenty and fifty-five percent of males migrating (Hentschel et al. 1996; Lanjouw 1996). Within the current policy context, many farms in higher, drier, more remote locations seem no longer able to sustain families in situ. Some observers end up succumbing to the despair of environmental determinism: When all is said and done, one can t change environmental limitations (an official quoted in van Niekerk 1997: 3; see also Hentschel et al. 1996). For all the limits of neoliberal arguments about viability in the Andes, the empirical work that underlies them is therefore a reminder of real problems of production and income. It highlights the extent to which a focus on discourse misses a large part of the drama of livelihood struggles, practices, and dilemmas in the Andes and therefore like neoliberal frameworks presents a partial view of rural life. Furthermore, they remind us that a failure to address the ways in which more viable livelihoods are and might be constructed only favors the ascendancy and hegemony of neoliberal frameworks that would ultimately endorse policies that would
6 500 Bebbington have the effect of fostering the demise of the campesino sector. Ways Forward? Hybrid Livelihoods and Comparative Ethnographies Neoliberal and poststructural positions are, in one sense, like oil and water: their political agendas, normative intents, and epistemological positions are quite different. Partly as a consequence, they emphasize different dimensions of rural livelihoods. Neoliberal takes on rural development in the Andes draw our attention to the very real challenges that Andean people confront in making a living and negotiating their relationships with a range of product, labor, and other markets. Meanwhile, poststructural positions focus our attention on the ways in which rural people make living meaningful and struggle politically for spaces of autonomy and self-realization themes on which the viability discussion, and much other development research, are largely silent. Yet while their normative intents make these approaches fundamentally incompatible, their substantive concerns surely represent different parts of a larger whole in which rural people are engaged all the time: the challenge of securing a viable way of guaranteeing the material basis of their livelihood and, at the same time, building something of their own. If, in practice, people pursue these concerns at the same time, then analytical approaches that pay attention primarily to one or other dimension of them are likely to work with oversimplified notions of grassroots economic and political action, and of grassroots notions of development and betterment. Indeed, I argue that if our approaches give equal weight to these different dimensions of livelihood, then this can challenge notions both of viability and of development. On the one hand, it shifts the notion of viability from one focusing only on viable economic activities, to one concerned with livelihood and place, and the ways in which people struggle to keep rural localities alive by somehow generating incomes that will allow the material reproduction of these places. On the other hand, it will challenge notions of development as destruction and of markets as anathema, for one of the critical means through which people make livelihoods and places viable is engaging with the institutions of development, the wider modernizing processes of which they are a part, and a range of product and labor markets. Finally, it is likely to challenge our notions of resistance and politics at least as these relate to development, for as Keith (1997: 276) notes, a politics of the possible must inevitably emerge from a sustained engagement with the empirical, not a naïve romance of the real. Escobar provides us with something of a lens for thinking about these issues with the notion of hybrid cultures (1995: ). Popular practices which, he suggests, should be the basis of any alternative development constantly piece together the old and new, elements of modernity with longer-standing elements of local practice. They are, in his words, characterized by a relentless traffic between the traditional and the modern (1995: 222). The difficulty with the notion of hybrid, however, is that it assumes that there exist prehybrid cultures. Yet Latin American landscapes and livelihoods have been hybridized at least since the sixteenth century (Whitmore and Turner 1992). It is perhaps this implicit assumption of prehybridity that underlies a certain tendency to invoke ideal typical notions of popular practice as the basis of development alternatives. Yet, if all practices and cultures are indeed hybridized, then it seems unreasonable to make categorical statements about the principles that will characterize popular practices and development alternatives for they, along with identity and place, will be dynamic, unstable, and above all situated. A second point of departure begins from poststructural concerns to highlight differences and identities, radicalizing the point more than do their discussions of alternatives. For just as people might assert difference and identity visà-vis development and its institutions, these differences are also at stake in relationships within the popular sectors. Imagining alternatives, as well as practicing current livelihoods, is therefore likely to be internally debated and conflictive, among genders, generations, kin groups, communities, and others. This is not to minimize the importance of these alternatives, but it is to push a step further in not romanticizing them, and therefore in making them seem more credible. The third and central point of departure also derives from Escobar: his call for more ethnographies of development and of how it is experienced and resisted. Again, though, if local cultures are hybrid, to emphasize questions of resistance to development is perhaps once again
7 Reencountering Development 501 to apply too partial a lens to popular practices. If one of the principle challenges in the contemporary Andes is to address problems of production and income, it may be appropriate to call for ethnographies of how people have struggled to compose livelihoods aimed at making a living, and making it meaningful. It is in building these livelihoods that people encounter development interventions, state and market, in ways that might be interpreted sometimes as resistance, sometimes as accommodation, and sometimes as instrumental. If in such ethnographies, we find as I believe we do that livelihoods have not only been viable, but have also allowed accumulation, albeit in very unanticipated ways, then the neoliberal discourse on viability needs reframing. And if we find as I believe we do that this has been possible to a considerable degree because of development programs, state interventions, and market integration, again in often very unanticipated ways, then the poststructural critique also needs reframing, normatively and analytically. In this sense, empirical, ethnographic and historical analysis of particular regional contexts might also generate the type of knowledge and theory that could resolve the problem of trusteeship as laid out by Cowen and Shenton (1996). By illuminating the concerns and notions of improvement implicit in popular strategies, and by understanding the types of development of which these actors aim to be trustees, empirical work offers the prospect of illuminating the idea of development as lived, rather than invoked, thus rescuing the idea of development from the doctrinal lenses of those who would otherwise define it. This might also change the criteria used for thinking about the impacts of development. Transitions and Transformations in the Ecuadorian Andes The risk of calling for such ethnographies and histories of development is that it succumbs to the problem of exceptionalism, making difficult any effort to build theory on the basis of individual cases. One possible response is to do comparative analysis of ethnographic and historical material. 15 Though this has its own methodological difficulties (see below), it is the approach taken here. I discuss the transformation of three localities in the Ecuadorian Andes (Figure 1) during the second half of this century. The cases deliberately juxtapose two localities (Colta and Guamote, both in the province of Chimborazo) which, for many observers, have been examples of development failure and areas where campesino livelihoods are in crisis, with a third case (Otavalo), which is often viewed as one of the most successful instances of local development in the Andes. The reason for juxtaposing the cases is to suggest that there are also intriguing similarities among them. In each case, access to resources has become more inclusive, and new and more accountable local governance structures have been created. Likewise, livelihoods have been built that, by engaging with a range of markets, have allowed levels of accumulation that in part sustain the material basis for these other sociopolitical and cultural changes. In each case, external interventions have played (often unanticipated) roles in fostering these processes of transformation. Together, these patterns make it difficult to talk glibly either of nonviability or of development as destruction. 16 The cases do, though, suggest the importance of further elaborating some of these claims. First, though, a comment on questions of method. Reflections on Methodology To attempt a comparative reading of the articulations between development interventions and microregional political economy opens up a series of methodological questions. Such ethnographically informed comparisons across different sites may entail a novel kind of fieldwork. Rather than being situated in one, or perhaps two, communities for the entire period of research, the fieldworker must be mobile, covering a network of sites that encompasses a process, which is in fact the object of study (Marcus and Fischer 1986: 94). This raises several interpretative issues, for while the analysis of the process itself might remain thick, discussions of the particular place-based manifestations of that process are necessarily thinner. Such a research approach also raises logistical issues. Multilocale work necessarily involves extended field presence, which is only possible at certain stages of a career. In my own case, the most in-depth basis for this comparative analysis was laid in , during a fourteen-month study of the processes of agrarian change and development in-
8 502 Bebbington Figure 1. Ecuador and case study locations. tervention in Colta and Guamote. That research involved intensive involvement in four communities, and sustained contact with leaders and staff of five federations of indigenous communities and with staff of six separate state and nongovernmental development organizations. This work combined participant observation, extended and repeated discussions and interviews, a short household survey in two of the communities, and some soil analysis and crop trials. This was combined with far less intensive interactions with people in twelve other communities. I have since complemented that initial study with five other field visits to the region over the past decade. Though each subsequent study has had different purposes, they have been part of a larger deliberate attempt to understand the cumulative effects of development intervention on rural livelihoods and institutional change over an extended period. Two studies were of campesino organizations in Guamote and Colta, and their relationships to NGOs; one looked at the role of NGOs in local development; another focused on the impacts of peasant organizations on local governance in Guamote; and the fifth was simply a return to some of the same communities where the earliest work was conducted, to discuss patterns of change. This subsequent research, conducted for far shorter periods of variable duration, has involved in-depth interviews (rather than ethnographic work) with some of the same households, federations, NGOs, and key informants as were encountered in the earlier work. The advantage of such a sustained involvement is that it brings to light processes of change that can be missed in single-stay periods of research. It has also allowed me to discuss my own evolving interpretations with a variety of the actors involved. The disadvantage is that the nature and quality of information and insights varies among the different periods of field research. These methodological problems of comparative analysis are made much more serious by an attempt to compare across different authors ethnographic and ethnohistorical research. Eth-
9 Reencountering Development 503 nographies emphasize place, context, case specificity, and authorial insights. To seek more generic principles across ethnographic accounts can do violence to the authors own intents. Furthermore, given that different ethnographies emphasize different dimensions of local social and cultural practice, they do not all give comparable attention to the same issues. Any attempt to draw comparisons might then stretch the data beyond its justifiable reach. Indeed, some would eschew the possibility of such comparison unless they were able to witness or participate in the same empirical moments, and not have to depend on the interpretations of the ethnographer (Schegloff 1999). While there can be no easy answer to this problem, to reject entirely the possibility of reading across ethnographic and historical accounts greatly diminishes the potential role of such approaches in building up more nuanced and problematized understandings of rural change. More generally, it probably undermines the potential for the sorts of ethnographically informed accounts of regional processes called for by commentators such as Marcus and Fischer (1986). What follows is therefore my own comparative reading of these different accounts. It is based on the conviction that much of what is narrated in these other accounts, when read through the lens of my own experience, seems quite plausible to me, while, at the same time, providing additional insights that though beyond my own field experience I am prepared to accept as valid, given the convergences of other authors insights with my own interpretations. While this is perhaps an insufficiently rigorous set of criteria for reading across different bodies of work, it is akin to the criteria that researchers use when, as lay folk, we engage in simple conversation aimed at extending the boundaries of our own knowledge and understanding. Colta: Migration and the Viability of Place The canton of Colta is located in the central highlands of Ecuador, with a population of slightly less than 50,000 people, 17 living mostly in rural communities at altitudes of 3000 m and above, along with a handful of small urban centers of some two thousand people or so. Primarily agricultural, Colta is also notable for the high levels of periodic outmigration among its residents. Such outmigration from rural areas is often taken as an indicator that local livelihoods are not viable. This phenomenon has been interpreted as semiproletarianization, the ever incomplete absorption of poor rural people into the urban economy, as well as a necessary survival strategy in conditions of naturalresource scarcity (de Janvry 1981). Other authors see periodic migration as a deliberate attempt to continue to be a campesino (Farrell et al. 1989), and to retain some form of economic activity that offers a buffer against downturns in urban labor markets (cf. Brown et al. 1997). Without denying the sense in which migration is, in considerable measure, a consequence of structural constraints and regional underdevelopment, these latter accounts also emphasize that migrants are also agents, and in which migration is a strategy as well as a necessity. For many families in Colta, it has been a strategy for maintaining a foothold in the region. 18 This foothold, in turn, allows the maintenance of agricultural practices, religious practices, and local institutions through which the extent of Quichua (i.e., indigenous) control of Colta has expanded, and through which its material landscape has been transformed in both its agricultural and built forms. Though transformed, Colta thus continues to be the locus of a range of practices and identifications with place and history which, though constantly in flux and varying across gender, generation, and other lines (cf. Silvey and Lawson 1999), together constitute an important basis of being a Quichua from Colta. These transformations are all the more remarkable given that as recently as 1965, a Cornell research team produced a study on the Quichua population of Colta entitled Indians in Misery (Maynard 1965). The study depicted Quichuas dominated by large rural estates (haciendas) through various forms of tied labor relationship that restricted access to land. The ties between hacienda, church, and local political authorities likewise restricted possibilities of indigenous accumulation or any form of political participation, preserving forms of social control and exclusion in much the same way as Casagrande and Piper (1969) described for the neighboring parish of San Juan. Yet at the same time as the Cornell team was working, a series of changes were occurring that would drive the transformation of this region. The most important of these was land reform. National landreform laws were passed in 1964 and, more far
10 504 Bebbington reaching, in These laws marked the end of the hacienda-based mode of production and social control, and had profound effects on Colta s agrarian and sociopolitical structure. Some subdivision of estates had begun before land reform, as early migrants used savings to purchase land, and some hacienda owners began to sell, especially those who had a particularly unruly labor force (cf. Thurner 1993). The laws, however, led to an intense acceleration of this process of land acquisition. By 1990, more than forty-three percent of Colta s land surface had been affected by the land-reform process, and no large hacienda remained, though some smaller ones still did (Bebbington et al. 1992: 125). These changes in access to land, while they ended the former system of rural governance, were not equal across Colta. Families and communities 19 gained access to different qualities and amounts of land as a result of the combined effects of different geographies of population pressure, of social conflict, of the onset of hacienda decline, and of soil and water quality and availability. In cases such as the sector of Gatazo, where families gained access to valley-bottom alluvial land with irrigation water, and significantly, where hacienda subdivision and migration had started at an earlier date, processes of accumulation began earlier and have been relatively rapid. Migration-based accumulation in Gatazo was translated into land purchase, which has in turn allowed accumulation strategies based on intensive horticulture. Though again the extent to which this is so varies among households, it has led to a reversal of outmigration as people have moved back to the locale, sustaining themselves either entirely through agriculture, or through a mix of agriculture and periodic participation in local labor markets (Allen 1993). In other cases, far more typical in Colta, the land accessed was unirrigated and sloping and has not allowed any significant agricultural intensification. Indeed, reports from communities in Colta with this type of land all emphasize agricultural stagnation and land degradation rather than intensification, and draw attention to the importance of periodic (and occasionally permanent) outmigration as a livelihood strategy (Bebbington 1990; Knapp 1991; Muratorio 1982; Tolen 1995). Finally, in some more sui generis cases such as the communities of Santiago, where land is poor and scarce, but where migration began quite early, significant numbers have become itinerant traders (Gellner 1982) and semiprofessionals (teachers, agricultural technicians, etc.). The livelihoods of contemporary Colta are therefore now diverse: none linked to the hacienda, all deeply linked to the market, and most still linked to rural property, however small the plot or house. This shift in the nature and geography of livelihoods in Colta has been accompanied by important changes in the landscape. Colta s countryside is a mixture of small, often visibly eroding fields dotted with breeze-block houses, of one, two, or sometimes three and four stories. Like Colta resident Manuel Alvarado s two-story house (in the community of Lupaxi Grande), most of these have been built with money earned elsewhere, in his case, first, while working in the sugar cane harvests on the coast, and subsequently, as a peddler of shoes and clothing. Also, as in his case, responsibilities for the house and the fields are feminized. While Manuel is as happy in Colta as on the coast when I m on the coast, I m a costeño; when I m in the community, I feel content, and this is my land he makes his money on the coast and sends it back to Colta for investment in housing. Like many others, that is where he will ultimately retire. Accumulation and housing investment have also been part of a subtle but important shift in the centers of governance in Colta. New centers have emerged at two scales. At a local level, the hacienda has ceded to the community the center of everyday political decisionmaking and surveillance. 20 These legal (and territorial) communities now govern most of rural Colta, most having been created since land reform. Though only localized centers of power, most communities in this area (and Guamote see below) monitor carefully the passage of other people and vehicles through the space they govern, be these private individuals or government workers. Inevitably, as I was entering a community where I was working less intensively, I would be greeted with a Adonde vas gringuito [where are you off to, gringuito], and would be sought out by one or another village dignitary shortly after arriving, just checking up on me. Similarly, as the field workers of the farmers association with whom I spent much time in Colta would drive into a community in which they had some task or other to see to, people would come and check on the purpose of their visit. Very occasionally, and more seriously, communities have held unwanted guests hostage.
11 Reencountering Development 505 The other shift has occurred at the level of the canton, where the parish and cantonal capitals (the former centers of the hacienda-statechurch triumvirate) have been in demise. On the one hand, old mestizo 21 houses are being purchased by Quichuas, who split their residence between these capitals and the community. And at the same time, these old centers have been partially replaced by new centers linked to other systems of authority and sources of legitimacy. Some of these new regional centers are linked to commercial success, as in the semiurbanized communities of the Gatazos and Santiago (see above). Others have emerged as a result of another change that was beginning just as the Cornell team was conducting field work: the rise and subsequent consolidation of the Evangelical Protestant church. There are many explanations of how this religious change occurred. At the very least, it seems clear that the ability of the church to enter the region was itself facilitated by land reform and the weakening of the hacienda; it may also have reflected the determination of Quichua campesinos to look beyond the institutions that had traditionally dominated them. Several observers have also suggested that the Evangelical church s complete ban on alcohol consumption was attractive to earlier migrants who wanted to invest their migrant savings in land and housing rather than alcohol-intensive fiestas (Tolen 1995; Gellner 1982). That these migrants were also disproportionately represented among a new generation of more savvy community leaders further strengthened the authority of Evangelicalism. Whatever the explanation, the Evangelical church displaced the Catholic Church. Today many communities in Colta have their own communityorganized center of worship, and indeed some have several (Tolen 1995; Muratorio 1981). Meanwhile, the community of Majipamba, where the mission had its center, is now the place that is popularly understood as being Colta. Its large churches, radio antenna, and religious organizations (some of which engage in socialdevelopment activities) mark it as the region s new center, at least as seen from the communities (cf. Tolen 1995). In some areas within Colta, the formation of communities was followed by the creation of federations of communities (this process is discussed in more detail for the case of Guamote below). Each with their own acronym UOCACI (Unión de Organizaciones Campesinas de Cicalpa), AOCACH (Asociación de Organizaciones Campesinas Autonomas de Chimborazo), UNASAC (Unión de Asociaciones Agricolas de Columbe), AIECH (Asociación Indígena Evangelica de Chimborazo) these organizations are new actors in the governance of Colta. They have projects; negotiate with government for services, and have their own buildings and offices on which families and community leaders converge one day a week in order to engage in project-related business, gossip, and squeeze in a game or two of volleyball. The organizations also mark one of the latest reversals of ethnic and institutional relationships in Colta. In 1988, though many rural development NGOs worked in Colta, none had its office there. 22 By 1995, the technical team once linked to one of these federations, AIECH, had recreated itself as an NGO: the Center for Indigenous Development (CEDEIN) with its headquarters in the main mestizo urban center in Colta. By 1998, it was hiring mestizo advisors, and contracting other long-established NGOs from other parts of Ecuador to help with water projects. Some in Colta had begun to approach its director, José Bueno, to ask him to consider running for mayor. José smiled at me, at once modestly and wryly, saying he didn t think it was time yet. One day, he implied, it would be. In the meantime, he wanted to impress on me that when I had first known him and the team, they were being hired by mestizos to implement the activities of other organizations: now the tables were turned, not aggressively, but significantly. The distance between an image of Indians in misery and contemporary Colta is great. It is an indicator of how profoundly the relationships between livelihoods, access to resources, rural governance, and rural landscape have been transformed as a combined effect of campesino initiatives, and the state, religious institutions, and NGOs. This is not to imply that these changes are unproblematic. People are still very poor, and many (though not all) would prefer not to migrate; most people sustain their (or their families ) residence in Colta with income derived from elsewhere; differences in access to land exist, as do differences in income; intrigue and gossip surround who benefits most from Colta s new institutions. But it is important that arguments about development happen in Colta now, and not only (nor perhaps even mainly) in provincial and national capitals.
12 506 Bebbington Guamote s New Geographies of Governance Bordering Colta to the South, the canton of Guamote, with an almost entirely Quichua population of slightly less than 30,000, 23 more than ninety percent of whom live in rural communities located above 3,000 m, has likewise been transformed in the last three decades, though the contours and implications of this transformation differ. In 1974, Guamote had the highest concentration of land in large estates in all of Ecuador: today no large or even medium-sized, individually owned property remains. 24 In 1974, governance both rural and urban was dominated by the hacienda; today Guamote is at the head of a national list of so-called alternative municipalities, where municipal government is either in the hands of, or works closely with, indigenous populations (Muñoz 1998). The roots of this transformation lie in state responses to campesino pressure for land. From the 1950s to 1970s, campesino mobilization for land in Guamote became increasingly assertive, bolstered by links to national peasant movements and the communist party. The state, concerned with these levels of unrest, made Guamote the object of a far-reaching program of land reform. The radical Catholic Church was also active in pushing for land-redistribution, and became the principal counterpart of the national land-reform agency s program in Guamote. 25 In some sense, the idea of Guamote as a center of chronic poverty (which it was) was institutionalized in the 1970s (cf. Escobar 1995: 21 54). Thus categorized, Guamote became the object of a whole series of development interventions aimed at reducing this poverty. Land reform was followed by a series of state agricultural and rural development programs, one (Fondo de Desarrollo de Areas Rurales Marginadas, FODERUMA) coordinated entirely by the Church, the other (Proyecto de Desarrollo Rural Integral, DRI), a project within the National Program for Integrated Rural Development, implemented by the state. Yet it is hard to argue that these development interventions became a destructive force in Guamote (Escobar 1995: 44). Certainly development complicated the local institutional landscape, and while its interventions (together with popular protest) helped wrest power from the hacienda, they also endowed development institutions themselves with an apparent power to exert great influence on Guamote. Sometimes, under certain leadership, they availed themselves of this power in order to control but not always. During the leadership of Wilson Huilca in the 1980s, the DRI worked towards the vision of rural development in Guamote coordinated and implemented through networks of campesino federations. Though nowhere written in the project documents, staff from that period recall the vision clearly. Ultimately, some campesino leaders today comment, this was its effect. 26 State rural development programs ran more or less continuously up until the early 1990s, and were then taken over (in part) by a followup NGO program. The radical Catholic Church has remained present throughout, and has built links between communities and church-related NGOs. Increasingly, though far less systematically, Evangelically related NGOs have also established themselves in some communities. In this babble of intervention and acronyms, many agendas and interpretations are at play. No program is innocent. They are all linked to wider projects of building a state presence in the area, of strengthening campesino organizational capacities, of establishing Evangelicalism, or indeed of fighting off its advance. Yet beyond this, and in conjunction with the cumulative effects of schooling, these interventions have had other effects, deriving in large measure from the cadre of younger campesinos who were formed in the very process of mediating between these external institutions and communities. 27 In some cases, the interventions also deliberately created federated organizations to act as counterparts in community-level interventions federations within which this cadre of campesinos have become active leaders. The effect in part deliberate, in part accidental has been to change the governance of Guamote. As in Colta, the nexus of hacienda-priest-state representative has been replaced by a new institutional complex through which Guamote is governed a complex of communities, federations, NGOs, the new churches, and most recently, the municipal government. In the early 1990s, one of the two principal campesino federations in Guamote, the Union of Indigenous and Campesino Organizations of Guamote (UOCIG), launched a candidate in local government elections and won the position of mayor (Bebbington and Perreault 1999). Since reelected, the mayor has initiated a series of administrative and governance changes aimed at enhancing community control over the mu-
13 Reencountering Development 507 nicipality, and increasing municipal control over the federations. All federations are required to coordinate with each other and the municipality in the form of a Committee for Local Development that has its base within the municipal building. Under this rubric federations have become the implementing arms of municipal development policy. At the same time, a body to which each community is supposed to send a representative a so-called Indigenous Parliament (Parlamento Indígena) was created, with the purposes of monitoring municipal actions and discussing and presenting issues of concern in the communities. Giving new meaning to an old landscape, the Parlamento uses the old offices of the DRI as its base. These are all incipient changes, and are fraught with tensions. The two main federations in the canton Jatun Ayllu and the UOCIG still jostle for power and prominence. UOCIG is at odds with the municipal government, whose agents argue that, given the indigenous control of the municipality, it would make far more sense for UOCIG to pass its grain mill over to the municipality; UOCIG wants to maintain control of the mill itself. Some communities complain that the federations are not well managed, and particular Quichua individuals tussle for power, each feeling they have special leadership roles to play. At the same time, some NGOs support these changes, others maintain a certain distance. These tensions mark out the micropolitics of arguments over strategy and control (cf. Moore 1998) in which different individuals, communities, and kin groups have varying opinions over how resources should be used within Guamote, and who should determine these decisions. Yet, in some sense, these are the contents of the indigenous self-management that so stir people. The very occurrence of these arguments reflects how the governance of Guamote has changed profoundly. Power and control over local development have moved from one ethnic group to another (blanco-mestizo to Quichua), from one type of unit to others (hacienda to community and federation) and in the period since 1974 from central government and line agency to municipal government and federation. 28 With these changes, the image and meaning of Guamote have shifted. In the words of one federation leader, Hilario Maola, at last we have indigenous self-management (1998) (after decades of local governance being dominated by the church or state rural development programs). For others among Ecuador s development institutions who would have once seen Guamote as a miserable bastion of brutish haciendas and unruly Indian populations, where planned development intervention (and social research) was a thankless, and pointless, task, Guamote is now an innovative experiment in local governance. Seen against these political transformations, economic change has been much more modest. There is less evidence of accumulation in the landscape than in Colta, in part because the greater control exercised by the hacienda over campesinos in Guamote meant that the early accumulation linked to migration from Colta was far less frequent. In some communities, however, accumulation is beginning. In the communities of Sablog Rosa Ines and San Isidro, from the one truck owned in 1988 (by a family that, because of a personal relationship with the hacienda, had been able to purchase twice as much land as any other family), there were, by 1998, seven families with trucks combining agriculture with trade. And one and two-story breeze-block houses have begun to pop up across the landscape. But even though demographic pressure and the level of land subdivision in Guamote is less than in Colta, incomes remain chronically low: Guamote s three parishes exhibit poverty rates of near or above 90 percent of the population (Torres 1998). While the new municipal government has shifted investment from urban centers to rural areas, and has mobilized additional resources from external agencies primarily for rural investments, this has more effect on the meaning of Guamote than on its poverty. Otavalo and an Ethnic Market Economy 29 If Colta and Guamote are viewed as poor, eroded, and backward in the national imaginary, the image of Otavalo is quite the opposite. Known to tourists through its weekend market and ethnic products, and nationally through traveling Otavaleño merchants in market places selling textiles for popular consumption, this weaving center has a special reputation. Otavaleños are seen as proud, well dressed, and successful (cf. Casagrande 1981), and the transformation of Otavalo into a relatively vibrant regional economy was seen early on as a possible model for community development elsewhere (Salomon 1981). For Salomon, the essence of
14 508 Bebbington Otavalo s success was that through these transformations, Otavaleños had, in Sol Tax s terms, sustained a total pattern that is distinctively their own (Salomon 1981: 431). Somehow, he implied, they had crafted a different type of market economy that had become the material basis through which a highly distinctive place and set of regional and ethnic identities was being produced. Delving into ethnographic insights into how this occurred causes intriguing parallels with the incipient processes of transformation in Colta and Guamote to become apparent. Long before Otavalo s current textile economy, the region had a pre-hispanic weaving culture. After the Conquest, this culture was harnessed by the Spanish in the form of obrajes grim rural textile factories based on indebted and otherwise tied Indian labor. Though the fortunes of the obrajes waxed and waned, they and other small textile enterprises kept a weaving economy alive into the twentieth century, by which time Otavaleño Quichuas were already regaining control of land. A 1909 document of the town government noted that [d]ay by day, the Indian is taking over the lands of the Canton, albeit by fair purchase (Salomon 1981: 442). The cumulative effect was that by 1946, while a third of Ecuador s rural population worked entirely on other people s land, only thirty-one percent of Otavalans did any work on others land (Salomon 1981: 426, citing Salz 1955). The relative economic and political independence afforded by early access to land has facilitated several transitions in the rural economy. In some cases, it enabled early migration, income from which was invested in further purchase of land and other investments (Korovkin 1998). It also created a space for the formation of small Quichua textile enterprises at both a household and small-factory scale. Thus emerged both a Quichua entrepreneurial class, as well as a semiproletariat that, employed in these enterprises, did not need to migrate long distances in order to make a living, and could combine farming and weaving. This economy facilitated the emergence of a trading class (larger than in Colta, and this time selling products from Otavalo) who, by mid-century, were traveling nationally and internationally to sell textiles (Buitrón 1962). Even by the 1960s, a number of Otavaleños were investing in housing and consumer durables (Buitrón 1962). As haciendas kept control of more fertile valleybottom land, the emergence of a more dynamic campesino agriculture came later than the household-weaving economy. But in some areas, campesinos have now also gained access to this land not infrequently under the auspices of land-reform legislation, and far more recently, in the context of Catholic Churchfinanced programs of land purchase in the 1990s. In these areas, rather than a weaving economy, a more intensive form of agriculture dominates (Korovkin 1997). That these already market- and profitoriented initiatives became the basis of a particularly vibrant regional economy one that has since seen yet more dramatic expenditure on contemporary-styled housing (Colloredo- Mansfield 1994), as well as relatively low levels of migration is as much due to external interventions and state policy as it is to popular practices and initiative. Import-substitution industrialization policies in the 1960s and 1970s protected textile production for the domestic market and also fueled an export boom each favoring the expansion of the textile economy (Korovkin 1998). At the same time, the growing tourist economy (also promoted, if less clearly, by state policy) provided a particular niche for Otavalo s more ethnic products a niche that its trading elite quickly exploited (Buitrón 1962; Korovkin 1998). More specific development interventions then assisted in the relatively rapid adjustment of the ethnic economy to the market: first in weaving and later in agriculture. Otavalo was one of the selected regions for the work of the Andean Mission in Ecuador (Jordan 1988), and the Mission provided technical assistance to weavers to help them diversify and improve the quality of their products. This type of support, coupled with albeit limited credit assistance, continued in different forms and guises of state intervention, serving to reorient Otavalan production to market opportunities (Korovkin 1998). If the state provided some of the means for this reaccommodation and capitalization of community entrepreneurial activity, nongovernmental and religious (often Evangelical Protestant) institutions did much the same, particularly in the form of a range of communitybased savings and loan institutions that emerged to fill gaps left by the state and private banks. These institutions supported agricultural and land-purchase activities as much as textile production (Korovkin 1997; 1998).
15 Reencountering Development 509 Otavalo s economic transformation has been accompanied by significant political changes. Local politics had been dominated by urban and landed groups linked in some way to the hacienda or urban textile economy, but even by 1962, Buitrón reported the first Quichua teniente político, 30 signaling the beginning of a more profound set of changes. The progressive early displacement of the hacienda s political power and control of land laid the foundation for a progressive, if lagged, shift in the traditional distribution of political power (Korovkin 1998). Principally these took form in the emergence of indigenous provincial federations that became active in county and national politics a process that began in the 1970s as part of the wider rise of ethnic organizations in the country (Bebbington et al. 1992). Early leaders in these organizations came from relatively prosperous families, marking the clear link between economic transformation and political change, if also raising questions about who it was that these new institutions represented. The two main federations, FICI (Federación Indígena y Campesina de Imbabura) and FICAPI (Federación Indígena y Campesina de la Provincia de Imbabura), each played active roles in the management and control of the provincial bilingual education programs of the 1980s and 1990s, and have become active in a subsequent national program for the development of indigenous communities (Andrango 1998; Korovkin 1998: ). Though these changes have not been without their own conflicts among different political, geographical, and kin-based currents within the federations (Andrango 1998), their emergence and role in regional politics has nonetheless shifted the balance of power in discussions of development and access to resources. This marks a significant shift in the political landscape of the region a shift in which, to some extent, a politics that is also distinctively their own is emerging. In Otavalo, politics, culture, and economy have all been transformed and, in the process, become more if far from perfectly inclusive. Places and Theories These cases throw light on several of the core themes in both poststructural and neoliberal discussions of rural development: themes of viability and place, hybrids and alternatives, and development as destruction. Of course, three places constitute too small and purposive a sample from which to draw generalizations, and my purpose here is not to stretch the material to make conclusions that cannot be sustained. On the other hand, elements of these transformations show certain similarities, I would argue, with other places of the Andes (Bebbington 1997) in a way that calls into question some of the generalized claims of both neoliberal and poststructural frameworks. This in turn calls for a more inductive, empirical approach to building development theory that, in working at the level of both structure and agency, is more modest in the general claims it makes. Such theory would serve as much to frame questions about possibility as to make assertions about determinacy. Viability, Migration, and Place Migration is frequently taken as a primary indicator of nonviability. Depending on one s analytical lens, it can be seen as a consequence of development destroying agricultural livelihoods, or as a measure of the incomplete absorption of land-hungry peasants into urban labor markets. In these three cases, however, it has been more than either of these interpretations. It has been a means of producing, securing, and investing in rural localities with the effect of transforming them. Many dynamics are at play here. Migrants have consistently used earnings to purchase land, particularly in those periods when more land was available because of lower population densities and when shifts in rural power relationships weakened the hacienda s grip on land. 31 Migration has also been an important way of financing the building of a new architectural landscape as people replace adobe and thatched-roof houses with more modern building materials. 32 Whether as peddlers, urban laborers, or international traders (as in Otavalo and parts of Colta), these migrants have transferred income from engagement in labor and trade markets into the same steady reconquest of land and space that Grillo has noted in the Peruvian highlands (1998: ). To be a migrant may not be the best of all possible worlds, but the ways in which many people have used migration also challenge any simple notion of this behavior as a mere indicator of the destruction of rural livelihood, or im-
16 510 Bebbington pending urban transition. Migration has become constitutive of lifestyles that make claims on more than one place. It has its appeal to those young adults like Manuel who love to come back to Colta periodically, but with time, get bored, and so also like to return to urban or coastal areas. It has also been used by many, of all income brackets and ages, not just to maintain a link with rural areas, but also to consolidate this link. Part of this is clearly an issue of status and conspicuous consumption (cf. Colloredo- Mansfield 1994). The community of Sablog Rosa Ines in Guamote is like many others in that its showiest house a two-story house with balcony and mock brick facing is empty for much of the year while its owners work in the northern highlands. But much of this sustained link is also an issue of lifestyle, cultural practice, and identity. People comment, whether talking of their homes, or their participation in community public-works programs to install water or electricity, that this is an investment in a place to which they can return to rest, celebrate fiestas, perform discrete agricultural tasks, and ultimately retire. Speaking of Pulucate, one of the larger communities in Colta, Becky Tolen (1995: 318) similarly comments: [w]hen those who own businesses, even houses, in Guayaquil, are asked why they also built houses in the countryside, they insist, against all appearances, that they will someday live in the countryside again. Migration also becomes a means of sustaining subsistence agriculture, and thus the practices linked to agriculture even if these are practiced by only some members of the household, and only occasionally by migrants on their periodic returns to the highlands. These practices in turn continue to be constitutive of identity. Tolen (1995: 130) again captures this perfectly: 33 [d]espite the ever-increasing significance of migration, agriculture is the heart and soul of life in Pulucate as residents describe it. As a form of activity, agriculture is thought of primarily as the provision of food to people and animals. This act, in turn, is the essence of humanity and sociability. The ethnographic record elsewhere in the Andes similarly emphasizes the relationship between place, the practices that coresidence makes possible, and cultural identity (Allen 1988; Rasnake 1988; Weismantel 1988). Retaining some toehold in farming appears to be particularly significant to such questions of practice and identity, however economically uncompetitive that agriculture may be. Of course, the structural constraints are many. People migrate partly as a result of the systematic lack of public investment in areas of dominantly indigenous populations and the historical failure of haciendas to invest significantly in employment generation. Meanwhile, accounts of migrant work experiences recall long hours, heavy burdens, long commuting trips to work, and cramped living conditions. So this is not to be naïve. But it is to put the agent back into migration and to suggest that people use it for ends that are more than merely ones of survival, and in many cases, have turned migration into strategies that both create economic resources and re-produce rural places. Agriculture may not be competitive, but the livelihoods that it continues to be a part of clearly are. Autonomy, Hybrids and Alternatives The cases all reflect a very significant investment in rural places on the part of campesinos. Individually and collectively, people struggle to maintain these places, and to expand their degree of control over the social and economic processes that unfold there. This process occurs at various levels: the body (in the case of dress), the locality (as, for instance, when people monitor the passage of others into and out of communities), and the microregion (as in the case of governance processes in Guamote). While this statement resonates with Escobar s claim that development alternatives will involve the defense of the local, the notion of defense draws too sharp a distinction between local and external. It implies too static a notion of the local, and ultimately more antagonism in the relationship between locality and external institutions than necessarily exists. Indeed, to draw on another element of his framework, it seems more apposite to think of people actively engaging in the production of hybridized localities than in the defense of a pregiven locality. This hybridization occurs through active engagement in wider labor and product markets, with the institutions of the national state, and the institutions of development (discussed in the following section). Otavalo is the clearest case in which an engagement with markets has been central to strategies (including land acquisition and political organization) that help secure greater control of locality. But such engagements are also apparent in the case of migrants
17 Reencountering Development 511 who work periodically elsewhere, investing their savings in the highlands (see above). Beyond any assertion of status, this investment is also a way of creating places that are more subject to the person s control: [t]hese houses are not only an expression of having one foot in the urban world: they are also a way of maintaining one foot outside that world, a refusal to accept that one is entirely defined by one s marginalized position in urban society (Tolen 1995: 318). 34 Of course, Otavalo is something of a sui generis case. Nor is there necessarily much to celebrate in livelihood strategies based on selling labor cheaply in distant environments, and building houses that one cannot live in yearround because highland livelihoods are unable to generate sufficient income. But something more is going on. Through various types of organizations and networks, people are increasing the extent to which they control these places, and the processes that unfold in and on them. This is most clear in the new organizational and political landscapes of each of these localities. At a local level, legalized communities have multiplied across the landscape to become the basic unit of rural governance. Supracommunal campesino federations have also developed in each case, and an increasingly vibrant indigenous Evangelical church in most. These organizations have increasingly trespassed into the terrain of the state, seeking to make it a further mechanism through which local populations increase their influence over the ways in which places are produced. Guamote is the most obvious case of this process, but in Colta and Otavalo, elements of the same process are apparent. Indeed, this process reaches wider through the Ecuadorian and, perhaps especially, Bolivian Andes (Booth et al. 1997). Each of these strategies and practices involve engaging with modernizing institutions and practices. In the process, new rural landscapes are produced: landscapes with modern building materials, new commodities, new forms of dress, vehicles parked outside campesino houses, increasing use of Spanish as an everyday language, Quichuas sitting behind office desks that were once the preserve of others, and so on. These are new landscapes, symbolic of many changes that have occurred in how people live, and think of living, in these rural spaces, and of the extent to which so many of their practices are mediated through the incorporation of modern ideas, things, and commodities. La gente se esta modernizando [ people are modernizing ], one young campesino reflected approvingly as he and I looked out across Sablog s fields and houses one day. This, though, was no rudderless modernization, commented a friend: you learn from the past. You tie yourself into tradition and history and bring it forward into the present. And in this process of assembling the artifacts of modern Ecuador in new ways and combining them with prior practices, these materials and ideas become indigenous, conveying a refashioned but still distinct identity. 35 More than defending and resisting, people and their organizations seem to seek means of using, controlling, and making meaningful these processes of composition and hybridization. Or in the words of three Quichua bilingual educators, this speaks very clearly of the deep cultural nationalism [of Quichuas] that must be organized and directed, but by their own leaders and social promoters (Bueno et al. 1983, my emphasis). 36 As people produce these new places, they produce new meanings and identities but still, as Salomon insists, maintaining a pattern that is distinctively their own. Coproduction, Institutions and Networks The transformations that have occurred in each of the cases discussed here have much to do with the cumulative effect of individual and collective struggles to build livelihoods and rework the relations of power that structure patterns of access to resources and of participation in markets and political processes. But they also have a great deal to do with the ways in which state development programs, different churches, and an array of nongovernmental development agencies have engaged with, responded to, and often promoted these individual and collective struggles. Even if these intersections between popular practice and the practice of development have sometimes occurred in quite unplanned and unpredictable ways, with equally unanticipated outcomes, they have implications for how we think about claims that development has failed, at least in the Ecuadorian Andes. It would be hard to argue that the situation in Colta, Guamote, and Otavalo is, today, worse than in the periods when hacienda-based regimes of power and control dominated these areas. The transformation of these power relations is clearly, in part, a result of everyday and
18 512 Bebbington organized forms of peasant resistance and mobilization, and land purchase using migrant earnings. But it is also, and primarily, a consequence of land-reform programs. These programs, in part responses to campesino mobilization, also became possible because of pressure from an emerging national bourgeoisie who saw the hacienda as a brake on market expansion, and from the U.S. for land reform throughout Latin America in order to prevent the rise of communism. The legislation created the legal space for campesinos to recover land, a process that very often involved collaborations between communities, state offices, the church, and NGOs. Over the last decade, the Catholic Church and an NGO, Fondo Ecuatoriano Populorum Progressio, completed this process of complete land transfer in Guamote, using Church funds to finance campesino purchase of remaining hacienda land. 37 These transformations in relationships of access underlie the subsequent changes in governance in each region as new political and social institutions have been built or assumed more strength. The emergence of community-based organizations and federations, Quichua municipal governments, and now Quichua NGOs owes much to development interventions. While much of this support came from NGOs and priests who supported community capacity to negotiate with state programs and to access resources, some of it came from state programs themselves. This was frequently because of the actions of individuals within these programs who turned institutional practice and resources to particular purposes. The examples here are many. Some are of those foot-slogging community organizers, like Miguel Rojas, who, by 1997, could not remember how many communities he had helped organize and gain the legal status they needed in order to engage with other public programs. Others are educators like Carlos Moreno, who from within a government education department managed to mobilize resources for literacy training programs that trained small armies of community-level promoters (including those quoted earlier), many of whom subsequently assumed leadership positions in campesino and other organizations. And finally there are those occasional directors who, like Wilson Huilca, turned whole rural development programs into something bearing scant resemblance to the project document. 38 Again none of this is to be naïve about political constraints on development interventions indeed, after five years and a change in government, Huilca was forced out. It is, though, to recognize agency within these constraints, and to note that its effects can be lagged, and lasting, even after the agent s space has been closed. The constraints on economic accumulation are greater than those on changes in local governance. There has, though, been accumulation in these areas. Much of this has occurred because of work done in other places as migrant labor. Nonetheless, the emergence of the weaving industry in Otavalo (Salomon 1981; Korovkin 1998), the more localized patterns of agricultural intensification in parts of Colta, or cases such as the campesino agroindustrial complex of Salinas (Bebbington et al. 1992) suggest that the conditions for competitiveness can be created through external intervention. 39 In the context of a globalized economy, understanding the coproduction of economic possibilities through the joint actions of people, their networks, and external intervention thus becomes critical to any attempt to build counternarratives against neoliberal formulations of crisis: counternarratives that recognize, however, the importance of the economic as well as the cultural and political dimensions of alternatives. Rather than read off from different project documents the ways in which development interventions aimed to discipline and control these three areas, these cases therefore highlight the ways in which the practice of development interventions, and their effects, have opened up new spaces and opportunities in political and market spheres. Contra many neoliberal arguments, this does indeed suggest that viability can be created, and contra many poststructural interpretations it suggests that development interventions can play roles in contributing to such reworkings of power relationships. None of the above is to make the normative suggestion that current forms of market and political participation are ideal. It is, however, to suggest that spaces have been created through the combined effect of people s initiatives and development intervention. Many people have used these spaces to secure livelihoods, expand their control over highland places, and continue investing in the highlands. Understanding how such spaces opened up and have been used is critical for thinking about alternatives. Categorical assertions about the destructiveness of development distract attention from these spaces and the possibilities that inhere in them.
19 Reencountering Development 513 Conclusions Development as Destruction or Coproduction? Poststructural and neoliberal takes on development are, both in some sense, narratives on destruction: in the former case, the narrative is that development has destroyed local cultures; in the latter, it is that it ought do so as a necessary if unfortunate consequence of fostering more efficient forms of resource use. The cases discussed here make it difficult to accept such interpretations. There are both epistemological and empirical reasons for challenging the notion that significant parts of the Andes do not merit development investment because they are not economically viable. The epistemological case revolves around the problem of trusteeship (Cowen and Shenton 1996), and the very narrow categories through which such interpretations define viability. The empirical reason is that though there is clearly a problem of agricultural viability in many parts of Colta and Guamote, people have nonetheless composed livelihood strategies that allow a degree of accumulation. 40 They have invested heavily in local institutions and built form, if not always in agriculture. In this way, they have kept these places viable and vibrant even though agricultural livelihoods meet only a small part of household income needs. Meanwhile, cases like Otavalo suggest that in situ viability can be created with time, and that, indeed, income from migration might be an important initial stage in this process. The absence of institutions through which migrant income can be translated into productive investment in places like Colta and Guamote is probably a more important reason for the current stagnation of the local economy than any ecologically determined nonviability. Poststructural interpretations are similarly vulnerable to both epistemological and empirical critique. From these cases at least, it is not easy to substantiate the view that development programs and plans are merely exercises in a form of cultural domination exercised through the institutions of the modernizing state. While such interpretations ring true for certain cases, at certain points in time, these cases suggest the importance of empirical rather than simply discursive analyses of these interventions. In these instances, the effects of these programs have been multiple and, in many instances, have contributed to the restructuring of local power relations and patterns of access to resources. These effects in turn depend significantly on the practices of agents within these programs. Indeed, there is considerable dissonance between some of these practices and the sometimes-stated national policy that these programs were intended to foster the integration and assimilation of Quichuas into Ecuadorian society. The implication is that there are a variety of knowledgepower regimes at work within the institutions of development. If that is so, then the ways in which poststructural analyses have deployed the knowledge-power/institutions-intervention relationship as the cornerstone of their analyses may be too blunt, obscuring the scope for, and the effects of, agency. As Escobar notes, ethnographies of development are important: but in this case, they challenge elements of his and related frameworks. They question the generalizability of the conclusions as well as some of the categories being used. The same seems to be the case in poststructural discussions of alternatives: these, and the knowledges that are claimed to go with them, also seem to be essentialized conceptions. The emphasis on resistance is, in some sense welcome and appropriate, but to phrase it categorically as resistance to state interventions, or opposition to modernization, seems unhelpful: for while explaining some phenomena, others become harder to explain when resistance is essentialized in this way. Given this, and given the apparent logics at work across these diverse cases, it seems more appropriate to argue at a simpler level. People encounter development from their mundane, daily concerns to build and improve their livelihoods, to build places they enjoy being in, to give meaning to their lives through these livelihoods and places, and to maintain and, as far as possible, to extend the degree to which they can exercise control over their conditions of existence. This encounter can sometimes seem like resistance, sometimes like accommodation, and sometimes like selfinterest. But first and foremost, people encounter development in the process of trying to build something of their own. In these cases at least, this means that modernizing development is not necessarily resisted but is more often taken, transformed, and used; and similarly, modernizing institutions are worked with, used, transformed, and turned, as far as possible, to people s
20 514 Bebbington own purposes. As a consequence, almost everything about development is coproduced. This coproduction occurs at the intersections of institutional practices and popular practices, and of different practices within those institutions and popular sectors (for there is rarely a convergence of local minds on the sorts of home and meaning that ought to be built, or over who should have a say in this). Similarly, it is coproduced through people s engagements with a range of markets, and historical and modernizing ideas and practices. The notion of hybridity (Escobar 1995) is useful here, but needs further elaboration. If popular practice, livelihood, and culture has always been hybrid, then it is conceptually (as well as empirically) inconsistent to celebrate, by definition, the local over the external. Rather, it may be more important to understand the preferred hybrid forms implied in popular strategy, the terms and relationships of power under which such hybridization occurs, and the conditions under which those relationships are reworked to the benefit of those groups whose interests the author is primarily concerned with. Such an approach, of course, has many dangers. To some extent, it takes the broader political economy as given, looking for room-formaneuver within its constraints. This not only brackets the possibilities that these constraints might be changed. It can also divert attention from critical discussion of the extent to which people have no choice but to pursue their livelihoods through practices structured by a globalized economy whose very dominating effect closes off the possibility of imagining alternatives outside it. On the other hand, a focus on coproduction can hone attention on the extent to which room-for-maneuver for generating income and further extending the social control of local political and economic institutions might exist within these political economic constraints. Theorizing Up? If coproduction and hybridity are central to development as practiced and experienced, then, as the material reviewed here suggests, observers ought to be cautious before making generic arguments about causation and possibility of the kind made by both neoliberal and poststructural critics of development in the Andes. Conversely, the risk is that arguments about hybridity and place lead inexorably to analyses of the kind that celebrate difference and contextspecific alternatives. Such approaches are vulnerable to the accusation of case specificity and exceptionalism, and can make theory building or generalization difficult. The approach taken here, to compare ethnographic and historical accounts of different localities, is one way of addressing this problem, though it has methodological difficulties of its own. The claim, though, is that under certain circumstances it is possible to read across these texts and to suggest the existence of patterns in the ways in which development is experienced locally and in which livelihoods and landscapes are constructed. 41 Of course, three cases are too few to make categorical claims. Such claims about pattern would obviously assume more authority, the greater the number of cases, and the greater the convergence among interpretations of different readers of these cases. As this process of validated comparison and synthesis moves forward, it becomes easier to theorize and generalize. The general argument to be made at this point, however, is that subalterns are not merely victims who resist, but also agents who have succeeded in opening up spaces within states and markets. They have used these spaces to build new types of hybrid livelihood, institutions, and landscapes that are constitutive of quite distinctive forms of place making that, though incorporating many symbols of modernity, are indeed alternative to simple landscapes of modernization. It is hard to imagine that the same spaces would have opened without people having engaged with markets, state programs, and development interventions. This is an argument for building up a body of ethnographically informed histories and geographies of development through the Andes. Working at a regional level, it becomes more possible to narrate stories that do more justice to human agency while, at the same time, being clear on structural constraints. Such mesoscale knowledge (cf. Turner 1989) also offers greater hope of reducing the distance between theory and practice, critique and alternative. In these cases, it implies that increasing grassroots control over the ways in which places are produced and governed is central to alternatives. Building more accountable political institutions is critical here, but alone is insufficient. This is so not only because the grassroots control of such insti-
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