This book has examined what happens when land is put to new ends and
when farmers’ access to land comes to an end as a result of enclosure. Lauje
highlanders had an open land frontier until 1990 and could put themselves
to work to produce food and build relations of care. Their labor and crops
supplied coastal merchants with a source of profits, but they retained the ca-
pacity to withdraw from these relations, an autonomy coastal people read as
a sign of backwardness. Highlanders were alert to the value of their work and
guarded against its appropriation. When they began to enclose their land,
they had no procedures to ensure its even distribution among neighbors and
kin because the experience of land scarcity was new.
Highlanders did not anticipate the rapid emergence of inequality among
them, as some farmers accumulated land while others lost their land through
debt. Far from expanding their freedom and choice, as liberal theories pro-
pose, they were soon caught in capitalist relations governed by competition
and profit. Land- short farmers could not afford to grow food. They had to
plant their tiny plots with a high value crop and hope the revenue would be
sufficient to buy food and inputs. Many succumbed to the “simple reproduc-
tion squeeze” and were left with only their labor to sell, if they could find a
buyer. The process wasn’t dramatic, and it can’t be captured in a media sound
bite or movement slogan. It emerged in a particular form in the conjuncture
I have described, but it isn’t unique to it. The “simple reproduction squeeze”
among small- scale farmers has been widely reported, even though the ele-
ments contributing to it (e.g., climate, pests, prices) are diverse. The perilous
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