Les Indomptables : An ethnography of niche novelty production in Walloon Agriculture (MSc-thesis)

By Vincent Delobel, MSc Regional Development & Innovation Wageningen University

My ancestors from both sides have been farming for ages. Peasants have continuously held this as ancestral as salutary art of nourishing “débrouillardise” (lit. problem-solving creativity) for ages; they have fed others in the plain as in the mountain, under dictatorship as under “democracy”. However, farmer newspapers today say we may disappear soon; ‘eternal’ peasant population rushes to the bottom.

Are we really going to disappear? How and why did we get to this situation? What is going on in farms today? What are farmers’ plans and projects? What futures do these projects lead to? This is in short the structure of my MSc-thesis ‘Les Indomptables : An ethnography of niche novelty production in Walloon Agriculture’. This alarming observation motivated me to go and see on farms in order to better see, understand phenomena going on in the reality of farms, and to reflect deeper on underlying issues. Thus, I phoned a few cousins and other colleagues and told them I was interested in their “inventivité” (inventiveness), their own way of doing things; I asked them to go and work with them in their own farm, in their daily activities -whatever it would be- to understand why and how they are looking to change their routines, i.e. for novelties.

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Il a plus sur le grand paysage – Film about crisis in Wallonian Dairy farming in Movie W

Monday March 31, 20.00 the film ‘Il a plus sur le grand paysage‘ (with English subtitles) will be shown in Movie-W. The film is directed by Jean-Jacques Andrien. The director and a farmer will be present and open for discussion with the audience.

Autumn 2010. In the region of Herve, in Belgium’s east, the milk crisis of 2009 struck brutally at the dairy farms. In this profoundly estabilised context, the decision of the European Union to completely remove the milk production quota in 2015, and the determination of the World Trade Organisation to further liberalise the markets, directly threatened the existence of the farms. Nine farmers tell us of their struggle, from the heart.

Free entrance thanks to the support by Rural Sociology and Sociology of Development and Change of Wageningen University. The evening is co-organised by Otherwise, Movie-W, ILEIA, RUW and Boerengroep.