Cattle is king, mining still rules, pero la vida es muy a gusto: Diverse economy and livelihoods in the Sonoran borderlands
This research investigates how agricultural livelihoods in northern Mexico mitigate political-economic contexts. It seeks an understanding of socioeconomic space using landscape analysis, an assets approach to development, and cartographic visualization to re-perform livelihoods based on political economist J.K. Gibson-Graham's diverse economy project. This framework evaluates economy by uncovering multiple economic practices and reveals how people live in place. Place continuously articulates the roles, identities, and practices of its inhabitants, embedding historical relationships in the landscape.
A diverse economy study of place restores an individual's role in the economy, re-socializes economy, forges flexible communities, and regenerates peoples' connections to place. The research finds that re-performing place through an assets perspective is key to renegotiating economic space. This asks residents and researchers to perceive place as a culmination of available resources rather than as a space of need. Most notably, an assets approach is straightforward and replicable in research. It is the first step of analysis that begins an economic narrative of diversity—one that embraces differences and collectivity through the language of diverse economy. This language expands the scope of the familiar economic terms transactions, labor, and enterprise to include all types of economic practices—market, alternative, and nonmarket.
The diverse economy assessment of livelihoods in Banámichi confirms that individuals engage in multiple economic activities, sustaining economy through practices such as gleaning, crop-sharing, self-provisioning, and family care and participate in cooperative enterprises where the distribution of surplus embraces an ethical praxis of sociality. In these instances, economic exchange is incommensurable but not secondary to market activity. Further cross-examination of livelihood practices with traditional development indicators demonstrates that capitalist notions of accumulation based on growth do not classify whether or not an individual is more likely to engage in market, alternative, or nonmarket practices. This empirical evidence of economic exchange at the livelihood level in Banámichi substantiates that there needs to be a perceptual shift in contemporary development practices. It confirms that sociality and diversity are the substance of life and suggests new ways in which development could discover spaces of difference and open up opportunities for people to stay in place.
Latin American history;
0336: Latin American history