IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Farmer Suicides: The subject enmeshed in political and moral economies, emotions and ordinary ethics
Male farmer suicide is an ongoing concern in a number of countries including for example, Australia, the USA, Great Britain, India and Scotland. In Australia, the dominant discursive framework shaping male farmer suicide is one of ‘drought stress’ constituted through a positivist empiricism and ‘psy’ discourses of mental health. The contours of this dominant framework operate to limit other possible renderings of farmer suicide and narrow the frame of appropriate response. Using empirical data from Australia, Professor Lia Bryant challenges this reductive perspective, which correlates drought and farmer suicide by developing a theoretical reading of farmer suicide as a multifaceted problem (which drought exacerbates) occurring in relation to intersections between subjectivities and political and moral economies/communities. She argues that political and moral economies operate to limit farmer autonomy and create ethical breaches within social and economic relations between farmers, corporations and the State thereby shaping farmer distress. Alongside the workings of political and moral economies, community discourses of moral worth circulate through everyday social interaction and comprise an ‘ordinary ethics’ in rural communities. These discourses underpin judgements of ethical selfhood and attribution of blame for diminished farm viability. As a consequence, farming subjectivities and masculinities are increasingly inscribed with shame and therefore distress.These intersecting conditions working across the political, economic, social, cultural, emotional, moral and corporeal suggest how suicide may emerge as a possibility for male family farmers.
This lecture is free and open to all.
Details about Professor Lia Bryant
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