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Dr. Linda Price, Senior Lecturer Sociology, University of Worcester, Linda.Price@worc.ac.uk

Topic: Blood in the soil’: farming men’s embodied ‘farmscapes’ in the uk

Key words: Farming Men, Embodiment, Farmscape, Identity, Suicide


Across the Developed World suicide amongst farming men over fifty continues to rise; farming communities are no longer anchored in agrarianism and the family farm has become a more technologically driven and isolated arena. The places to enact an identity as a farming man, therefore, have become fewer. The gender relations underpinning farm survival and patrilineal succession has seen considerable focus (Price and Evans, 2009; Price, 2012). However, the embodied identities of farming men in this new cultural arena requires deeper understanding ‘if’ both positive and negative understandings of their ‘blood in the soil’ are to be more fully understood and addressed. Thus, the ‘farmscape’ conceptual framing is shown to derive from men’s embodiment ‘in the land’.  Further, it is shown to extend beyond ‘medicalised’ and risk factor approaches to decimation of life/identity via firearm availability which is ‘fragmented, reductive and circumscribed’ (Bryant and Garnham, 2014, p.304). Building on the ‘lifescape’ approach of Convery et al (2005), ‘farmscape’ foregrounds both the importance of temporal dynamicity and how farming is consubstantive with being in a locality with lifecourse ‘scripts’ that are embodied (Setten, 2004). Thus, five thematic and spatial scales drawing on ideas of ‘dwelling’ and ‘rootedness’ are outlined (Jones, 2013). Here dissipation of the mind/body dualism within ideas of self, home, belonging and entrapment, senses, family, nature (Caralan, 2008) are intertwined as follows: 1) the sensorial, subjective and internal male farming identity emotionally embodied in the land, soil, nature and weather as farmers ‘who I am’ rather than ‘what I do’ 2) men’s roles as part of the past, present and future family story, often responsible for keeping the blood in the soil through marriage, succession, retirement and farm survival, 3) men’s linking of farming practices i.e. management, animal husbandry/breeding to family heritage, 4) men’s changing roles within rural communities as an increasingly isolated minority with agrarian, social hierarchies, community rhythms and seasonal rituals in decline and 5) the impacts of global agri-economic/environmental policies with increased bureaucracy and pressure on historical traditions of farming.  Thus, it will be suggested that the embodied patrilineal life-course ‘farmscape’ can develop greater understanding of both positive and negative aspects of farming men’s ‘blood in the soil’ within a changing agri-culture from where suicide ‘may’ emerge.

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