The Invisible Reality of Technological Changes in Agriculture in the Postcolonial World: A Discourse Analysis

M.K.L. Irangani, R.P.I.R. Prasanna

The historical discourse on the factors that influenced technological changes in agriculture in the postcolonial world is widely questioned today. This paper attempts to open a new discourse on the historical factors that influenced technological changes in agriculture in third-world countries. It critically reviews both primary and secondary historical sources to derive the basic argument of the thesis and to test the research hypothesis regarding the effectiveness of the existing theoretical underpinning (the population-food race) in order to determine its sufficiency to interpret technological changes in agriculture that took place in the postcolonial world. In the larger view, this study views postcolonial technological changes in agriculture as a new form of western ethnocentric imperialism, from colonial to economic, with liberal economic values and principles. From a minor perspective, US geopolitical and military concerns are recognized as supporting this new, postcolonial economic imperialism, particularly as a tool against communist imperialism. The paper recognizes the thus-far-accepted theoretical foundation (the population-food race) to be inadequate for interpreting technological changes in agriculture in third-world countries. Finally, this paper’s review of historical information supports a view that technological change was a revolutionary attempt by western countries to promote postcolonial economic imperialism. Thus, visible factors such as the population-food race are not closely related to the reality, while invisible factors such as US foreign policy and geopolitical and military concerns, global corporate capital, and global institutional setups provide supporting evidence for the new form of imperialism—economic—in the postcolonial world.

Keywords: agriculture, economic imperialism, ethnocentric imperialism, food-population race, postcolonial world, technological change, third-world countries