Agricultural Knowledge Networks in Rural Europe, 1700-1990 [Hardback]

Yves Segers(Editor); Leen Van Molle(Editor); Yves Segers(Contributor); Leen Van Molle(Contributor); Janken Myrdal(Contributor)

ISBN: 9781783277124 | Published by: Boydell Press | Series: Boydell Studies in Rural History | Volume: 2 | Year of Publication: 2022 | 272p, H9.25 x W6.25, 2 maps, 13 b/w, plates and graphs
Status: Not Yet Published - Available for pre-order

Agricultural Knowledge Networks in Rural Europe, 1700-1990


All kinds of knowledge, from traditional know-how to modern science, are socially contingent and the product of an age-long and permanent social struggle. This book unravels and analyses the creation and, in particular, the exchange of agronomic knowledge in rural Europe from the early eighteenth until well into the twentieth century. It explores the spreading of knowing through the lens of "knowledge networks" and related models and analytical concepts. Where did agricultural knowledge come from and how did one learn to run a farm? Who was involved in this process of knowledge exchange, which strategies and communicative methods were employed and what kind of networks were active?
The answers to these questions mirror, as the book illustrates, the inventiveness of the actors on the scene: the creativity of a French naturalist to establish links with local farmers to stop the circulation of a devastating grain moth, the power of the agricultural press to instill "proper values" into Hungarian farming practices or to shape the identity of the Galician agrarian movement, and the agency of post-war British farmers to select information from sources ranging from lectures for the Young Farmers' Club, over visits of public advisors and representatives of commercial firms, to radio programs.
From the start of the agricultural Enlightenment and increasingly up to the present day, farmers (of both sexes) have been besieged by a growing army of experts and advisors, who fulfilled the role of modern prophets, telling them what to do, when and how. In a sense farming became one of the most patronised professions. But farmers had, and still have, the power to resist and to carve their own path, on an individual of collective basis. The contributions in this book make clear that a continuous tension existed between science-based agriculture and practice-based farming, between the expert image of an ideal agriculture and the (less known) self-image of being a good farmer. The dominant process, which also shines through in this book, is that of an instrumental top-down transmission of knowledge from "the lab to the field". But between these two poles, complex and very flourishing networks developed that functioned as a trading zone in which knowledge and experiences circulated, were put to the test, forgotten, altered, rejected or forced through.

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