Monday, January 26, 2009

Resource extraction in Otaki

Last week I made a short presentation about my fieldwork during an anthropology seminar at Kyoto University. The paper I presented covers some of my early thoughts about thinking of landscape transformation in the context of resource extraction.

Resource extraction and landscape transformation in Otaki

Today, many of Japan’s rural areas are in a state of crisis. Rapid depopulation, lack of capital investment, and the withdrawal of government assistance have left rural communities with few options; many have amalgamated with neighboring municipalities under a program meant to simplify the national bureaucracy. Those communities that have been unwilling or unable to amalgamate have, for the most part, been left on their own to maintain basic services while trying to find sustainable paths into the future. The situation has left these communities economically and politically disadvantaged, as well as environmentally and socially vulnerable. The historic presence of these asymmetric relationships has ensured that the phenomenon of extraction of both natural and human resources from rural communities has been a common occurrence during the formation of capitalist modes of production in modern Japan. (continue reading).