Women's Agricultural Work in a Multimodal Rural Economy: Ibarapa District, Oyo State, Nigeria
Jane I. Guyer with Olukemi Idowu
My title borrows a term from Ronald Cohen ( 1989) to refer to the distribution of farm size. As he notes, many African rural economies are already multimodal and have been so in differing ways for a long time. Economic history suggests that the African past has seen various kinds of diversity in farm size depending on the social organization of production and including plantations worked by slave labor ( Cooper 1977), vertical integration on the basis of highly polygynous marriage ( Guyer 1984a), and the mobilization of large numbers of kin and junior dependents under powerful leadership ( Bohannan 1954). The issue I want to address is not whether a multimodality policy is creative in increasing total production or productivity levels, but what the social basis and social dynamics are of the particular kind of multimodality developed under the political and economic conditions of the 1980s, including structural adjustment programs.
There are two interpretative frameworks in tension with one another, although both stress the centrality of diversification. One tends towards
Jane I. Guyer is associate professor of anthropology at Boston University. She has carried out research on the division of labor, gender, and economic history in Nigeria and Cameroon. Her published work includes a monograph entitled Family and Farm in Southern Cameroon and an edited volume entitled Feeding African Cities: Studies in Regional Social History.
Olukemi Idowu is a researcher with the Raw Materials Research Council, Lagos, Nigeria. Her research on large farms was sponsored by the Women's Research and Documentation Centre, University of Ibadan.
The field research on which this paper is based was undertaken by Guyer in Oyo State in 1968-69, financed by National Institutes of Mental Health; July 1987, financed by the Joint Committee on African Studies of the Social Science Research Council/ACLS; January to March, and July 1988, financed by National Science Foundation. Affiliation with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, and the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, is gratefully acknowledged. Field research by Idowu was undertaken under the NSF grant and the sponsorship of the Women's Research and Documentation Centre, University of Ibadan.