The Atkinson Center's partnership with Oxfam built a new approach to understanding community resilience in rural areas around the globe. Led by Wendy Wolford, this collaborative and participatory research project documented local experiences of resilience and the resources communities draw on to build their adaptability.
Graduate students and other early-career scholars at Cornell conducted participatory research in communities around the world. The researchers’ fieldwork emphasized local voices and experiences of resilience to enrich our knowledge about the challenges and opportunities rural communities face.
2013 Rural Resilience Case Studies
Bangladesh: Aquaculture communities
Bolivia: Quinoa producers
Marygold Walsh-Dilley (Development Sociology) studies resilience in San Juan de Rosario, Bolivia, where the growing dependence on quinoa production for international markets leaves highland producers vulnerable to environmental, social, and economic shocks.
Report: English | Spanish
Brian Thiede (Development Sociology) studies resilience among agriculturalists experiencing severe resource constraints in Kejima village, Hawassa Zuria province, Ethiopia. He reports that research participants indicate “there are no resilient households in Hawassa Zuria.”
Report: English | Amharic
Chuan Liao (Natural Resources) finds that pastoralist communities in Borana, Ethiopia, emphasize herd maintenance as the principle measure and means of community resilience in the face of drought, tribal conflict, and other threats.
Report: English | Oromo
Indonesia: Fishing villages
Paul Simonin (Natural Resources) examines resilience in two fishing villages in the Wakatobi Archipelago in Indonesia. His work identifies a spiritual element in subjective definitions of resilience. He quotes a community member: “We need to believe that the future will be good. If we did not, why would we go on?”
Report: English | Bahasa Indonesian
Mexico: Ejido farmers
Nepal: Community forests
Rajeev Goyal (International Agriculture and Rural Development) looks at resilience in Yanghila, Nepal, where collective management of community forests is an important resource for local resilience.
Report: English | Nepali
United States: Beekeepers
Eleanor Andrews (Development Sociology) examines the resilience of beekeepers in Tompkins County, New York. She emphasizes the importance of social connections and clubs for knowledge sharing and resilience.
United States: Informal economies
Sara Keene (Development Sociology) studies informal economies in northern California, pointing to economic diversity as an important source of resilience. People there need jobs, but “not just any jobs.” She emphasizes that resilience must also provide for meaningful lives.
United States: Transition Town movement
Charis Boke (Anthropology) examines resilience-building efforts in Putney, Vermont, a Transition Town. She concludes, “In order to build happy, meaningfully resilient lives . . . the primary thing that is missing is a ‘sense of connection.’”