Burma, biofuels and public anthropology
Seeing as we have been talking about Burma and the cyclone, biofuels, and the role of anthropologists as public intellectuals, here is a short news piece from the ABC by Monique Skidmore, anthropologist at the ANU, which combines all three.
An Australian anthropologist says the push to grow biofuels has worsened the plight of Burmese cyclone victims.
Professor Monique Skidmore from the Australian National University says The Burmese junta this year has ordered farmers to replace rice with a bitter biodiesel plant called jatropha.
She says the rice supplies are shrinking because of the biodiesel campaign.
“It’s quite incredible to see this arid region plant being cultivated all over the country now, even in the delta area,” she says.
“So people have had to rip up paddy in some places to plant hundreds and hundreds of acres of jatropha and this is a plant that doesn’t grow well, and people do not have the production and distribution facilities to do anything with the product once they get it, and they don’t get much. And of course they’re not being able to cultivate rice in the meantime.
“So it’s an incredibly ridiculous path to embark upon.”
Here’s another example of Skidmore’s public engagement, an audio piece on the psychology of resistance in Burma.