Thesis Question – From Stephen Marglin’s Towards the Decolonization of the Mind

3 February, 2018 - Thesis

“Another reason why choice sets contract is that many activities are indivisible and require a minimum scale to be feasible. The substitution of mass-produced articles for local craft products is conventionally seen as an enlargement of choice. And for many consumers this is exactly right: plastic buckets win out over clay pots in the market place because they are cheaper and more durable. But if the local market for pots shrinks to the point that it is no longer feasible for village artisans to carry on, not only are the potters adversely affected — their choice sets are almost certain to contract — but those villagers who might have continued to patronize the local producers also find their choice sets diminished.// In a longer view, the whole community may be the poorer once the potters’ knowledge dies out. For this loss of knowledge is not likely reversible even if tastes, economics, or ecology reverses the ranking of clay and plastic. The force of this example, as the philosopher Bernard Williams has reminded us, is not limited to technical knowledge. Traditional ethical (and, one might add, aesthetic) knowledge may also be crowded out by the modern.” (6-7)

I want to analogize the example of the potters to indigenous farmers. What is lost as they are crowded out and converted, even entirely, to modernist agriculture? The farmers lose but what does the indigenous community, all of Oaxaca, all of Mexico, lose as an incidental byproduct of this loss?

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