Detailed ethnographic studies of individual subaks indicate that subaks are neither as homogeneous nor as harmonious as some other studies have suggested. Their internal workings are complex and often contradictory and contested. Processes of continuity and change co-exist in delicate dynamic equilibrium. These studies signal a need for wariness about generalization and a need for close study of specific cases. This paper is just such a study, not of a subak as such, but of an innovative and (to date) extraordinarily successful localized project to develop rice-cultivation in a more sustainable direction through a shift away from
petrochemical-based agriculture toward a more organic approach based on locally produced compost. We use this case also to address questions about the relevance and role of the subak in such developments.
Graeme S. MacRae Senior Lecturer – Massey University
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