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Cultivating Distress: Cotton, Caste and Farmer Suicides in India

Kannuri, N; Jadhav, S; (2021) Cultivating Distress: Cotton, Caste and Farmer Suicides in India. Anthropology & Medicine , 28 (4) pp. 558-575. 10.1080/13648470.2021.1993630. Green open access

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Abstract

Nearly 4,00,000 farmers committed suicide in India between 1995 and 2018. This translates into approximately 48 suicides every day. The majority of suicides were those from ‘backwarded’ castes including Dalit farmers. This ethnographic study on cotton farmer suicide reports narratives of surviving Dalit families. The results reveal that financial and moral debt when accrued within a web of family and caste-related relationships result in patterns of personal and familial humiliation, producing a profound sense of hopelessness in the Self. This loss of hope and pervasive humiliation is ‘cultivated’  by a cascade of decisions taken by others with little or no responsibility to the farmers and the land they hope to cultivate as they follow different cultural and financial logic. Suicide resolves the farmers’ humiliation and is a logical conclusion to the farmer’s distress, which results from a reconfiguration of agricultural spaces into socially toxic places, in turn framing a local panopticon. The current corona virus pandemic is likely to impact adversely on peoples who are culturally distanced.

Type: Article
Title: Cultivating Distress: Cotton, Caste and Farmer Suicides in India
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/13648470.2021.1993630
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/13648470.2021.1993630
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Farmer suicides; cotton; caste distress; clinical anthropology; panlexicon
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135904
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