Exemplary Agriculture

Exemplary Agriculture: The Origins of Independent Organic Farming in China

Sacha Cody



Drawing on evidence collected in Shanghai and the surrounding countryside, this article argues that exemplary models and norms—used to engineer public and private morality appropriate for the upheavals of modernization—are not the sole creation of the Chinese state or media. Instead, self-appointed exemplary models, amongst ordinary citizens, are present in China. The self-appointed exemplary models I investigate practice organic farming, and by providing safe, quality foods, they aim to mitigate some of the risk perceived to be inherent in Chinese modernity. Through 18 months of ethnographic investigation amongst a group of independent organic farmers (university educated with successful urban careers who are new to farming) in and around Shanghai, this article discusses the role of self-appointed exemplary models in fostering alternative moralities and parallel visions for Chinese modernity. Their missionary zeal to ‘do good’ is analyzed through Børge Bakken’s (2000) concept of the exemplary society.

Keywords: China; exemplarity; food safety; morality; risk

Download Full Text – Cody 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s