Pockets of Peasantness – Small-scale Agricultural Producers in the Central Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York

September 21st, 2016 by admin

Over the course of 2015 and 2016 I worked on my master’s thesis called “Pockets of Peasantness – Small-scale Agricultural Producers in the Central Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York” which is finally available online.

In case you haven’t downloaded and read it already, here’s what it is about. Some people call this an abstract:

Farmers in the Central Finger Lakes Region of New York (USA) balance their production between principles of peasant farming and capitalist farming. They struggle to extend their sphere of autonomy and subsistence production, while extended commodity production is often a response to external forces of the state and capital. This struggle, together with a quantitative increase of small farms, can be described as an instance of repeasantization.

Based on inductive, empirical qualitative social research, and in particular, ethnographic participant observation and semi-structured interviews, this thesis describes the economy and social organization of six farms in the area under investigation. Besides selling commodities to pay for many farming inputs and consumer goods, the farms produce for their subsistence and that of their community. They exchange products and services with other farms, they build networks of mutual provisioning, support and mentorship and try to take good care of the land.

This thesis shows that subsistence production and peasant culture are not restricted to the past or the Global South, but also exist in the United States of America, albeit subject to the globalized capitalist market economy. I suggest that these pockets of peasantness are an important source of inspiration for society at large, while the dominant capitalistic social order fails to deliver good living conditions for most people. It is therefore critical to support farmers in their struggle.

catching up – life between North America and Europe

September 4th, 2016 by admin

When months pass without me writing any blog posts, it’s usually not because nothing happened (in which case I tend to turn to political commentary). Quite the contrary, so much happened that I didn’t find time to blog. Or let’s be honest: Blogging was the least thing I thought of.

After spending about 7 months in Upstate New York to do field work for my master’s thesis, I moved back to Vienna to finish my degree. Part of that was re-designing a green roof for IKEA in Budapest (don’t think they ever actually implemented any of our plans). After fall semester, I reconnected with my hobo-self and kind of drifted back and forth between Vienna and my hometown Rostock while writing up my thesis. All this was interspersed with the odd trip to Prague, Berlin, Bremen, London, Somerset and Reykjavík. Don’t think I ever spent so much time on long-distance busses. In the meantime, I accepted an offer to pursue a PhD in Rural Sociology at Pennsylvania State University and defended my master’s thesis. Guess that makes me technically a Diplomingenieur in Landscape Planning and Landscape Architecture now.

In retrospect, I realized that my restless traveling through Europe was my way to say good bye to the continent, places I love and people that I miss already. I am now in State College, PA, two weeks in the crazy adventure of grad school. Crazy it’s been indeed so far, but more on that in entries to follow…


Die Subsistenzperspektive – eine Umorientierung zum Guten Leben für alle

December 2nd, 2015 by Johann Strube

Im vergangenen Sommer haben Johanna Biesenbender, Sigrid Gerl Monika Thuswald und ich in transatlantischer Zusammenarbeit einen Artikel zur Subsistenzperspektive (Die Subsistenzperspektive – eine Umorientierung zum Guten Leben für alle) geschrieben, der jetzt endlich bei der Grünen Bildungswerkstatt erschienen ist. Für alle, die es noch nicht wissen: Die Subsistenzperspektive ist ein wesentlicher Schwerpunkt meiner wissenschaftlichen Arbeit und  dieser Artikel gibt eine gute Einführung zu dem Thema.

No, traveling is not expensive OR how to travel on a budget.

October 2nd, 2015 by Johann Strube

Among my friends, I have a reputation for being some kind of a traveller. Sometimes, I find it an applicable label, endearing for the romanticism it implies, and sometimes I find it misleading, as traveling to me is more a means than an end. And who can call oneself a travel who has never been to… say India? Either way, I do tend to change my position in space rather frequently and therefor I found it surprising that I write so little about it. Guess I’m more of a traveller than a writer. Certainly a rambler.

One of the things that continues to strike me in conversations on traveling, that many of my contemporaries seem to see it as an expansive activity, associated with towering costs that makes it impossible for them. When I say striking, I mean profound amazement and confusion because to me, traveling is rarely more expansive than staying (what is even the opposite of traveling? Non-traveling?). Sometimes, it is actually cheaper. But more on that later. This bewilderment is the reason for this post. It’s partly about my style of traveling and partly an attempt to understand the reasons that keep others from hitting the road (or rails, air, water, outer space or what not).

So what is traveling? On the most basic level, it’s changing one’s location in space (and until beaming becomes a reality, time, too.). I include in my definition, that traveling implies staying away from wherever you stayed before. I admit, it’s a difficult definition, as it implies that you had to stay somewhere, in order to be a traveller. What about someone, who never stays anywhere and is constantly on the move? Does that make the person less of a traveller? “INDEED”, you might chime in, “it’s a hobo, a bum, a punk!” Well, these are all judgmental expression and I think that person would be a perfectly valid traveller. What I am trying to say is that you need to stay away from wherever you came from. You can’t just change your location to work and back home within one day and call yourself a traveller. This is commuting. Everything else is negotiable. Basically, if you do have a cunning, positive definition of a traveller, please post it in the comments. Lacking a better definition and internet connection to look it up (guess what, I’m traveling), I leave it as that and proceed.

As earlier mentioned,

traveling to me can be a fairly cheap,

which to be fair is counter-logical. After all, you add one activity to the things you would be doing otherwise.

It follows, that

right? Well, not quite. Basically, for these two reasons:

Now, the critical point is, that you need to minimize your expanses for board, transportation and stuff. When you achieve the following two statements to be true

then you reached the holy grail of cheap traveling, you safe money while traveling, expressed as

Depending on your situation, that’s $200-$500 savings a month right there (You are doing something seriously wrong, if it’s even more. But I save that for a later post). Now you practice the art of free living. Especially in the warmer months, you could be camping. Many countries have lands where backcountry camping is free of charge. If you want to stay in more developed areas, you can sleep in most airports for free. Even better, you sign up to sites such as couchsurfing or hospitality club and stay with kind strangers, that invite you to their homes. It’s mostly safe and fun. Heck, travelers relied on strangers for century for free lodging. Just ask, built a relationship instead of buying a commodity. Only when you end up somewhere longer, you rent or sublet a room (do not take a hotel!). Of course, in that case your expanses won’t necessarily be lower than they were at home, but if you look around, they won’t be higher either.

It’s even easier in the stuff department. Since you don’t want to bring all that expansive and heavy entertainment equipment in your rucksack, you pick up something more lightweight, which tends to be cheaper, too. Reading a book (one at a time) is a popular choice among travelers. So is taking pictures with a small camera. Part of why people go traveling in the first place is to see something new, so you’ll enjoy studying that. Be it a new city or the plants and wildlife in the great outdoors. All that is incredibly cheap yet more fulfilling then watching movies or jet-skiing.

Transportation can be had for free, too. Provided you are able to walk, you are already gifted with a free mode of transportation. Just hike places. If you want to be faster, hitchhike. Yes, it can still be done and in most places, it is legal, too (Hitchwiki.org is a great resource to get you started). If you prefer the train, you could hop on a freight train. Personally, I have never done it myself, but I met many who did and had a great time and it sure sounds intriguing. But here is the secret point: since you’re already saved a couple of hundred dollars (or some other currencies, whatever) for shelter and stuff, you can easily afford train or plane tickets or gas AND still have some money left. Yes, it is indeed wonderful!

So this is how I travel cheaply. Let’s turn our attention to the second question of inquiry,

why do people think traveling is expansive and unaffordable, even though it isn’t as we have seen?

Well, I can’t be sure, but this is what I assume:

When people say traveling, they don’t mean changing one’s position in space (excluding commuting). They mean changing one’s position in space AND living a middle class life while doing so WHILE keep paying that apartment/room/house back home. Hell yes, that would be way more expansive and it seems utterly ridiculous to me why anyone would want to do that. And it gets worse. From that perspective, it’s not far to even more irritating assumptions, like traveling has to include a very far and exotic destination and perhaps on a even higher level of consumption (think whirlpools and fancy restaurants), since you only do this once a year. Now, don’t get me wrong, all that qualifies as traveling and it’s probably fun, too. But when people say, they don’t have the funds for traveling, they mean expansive spa traveling (shorthand for every kind of traveling that includes hotels, restaurants etc.) as a vacation from work, not traveling per se. This is all fine and fair, but please name it accordingly.

Please comment if you think my assumption is wrong and you have a different explanation. You can also comment to tell me that my views are pretentious or righteous or that I’m a hobo, which would be a fair point.

A few qualifications/further explanations at the end.
I didn’t yet satisfactory address the issue of food. In my experience, it usually ends up being the same no matter where I am. That’s why I assumed that

When I travel, I tend to eat out more often, mostly because I don’t have access to a kitchen, but also because I’m interested in the local cuisine (the best way of exploring that, though, is by being invited by locals to their homes. Not only is this free [you might want to contribute to that dinner in some ways], but also more authentic). The higher price tag for restaurant visits is then offset by having extremely cheap camping meals, like beans, oatmeal or peanut butter sandwiches and bananas. Of course, food expanses don’t have to be equal, depending on your specific situation. If beans, rice and oatmeal is the stable of your diet already, you will hardly beat that on the road. Conversely, if you eat out a lot at home, you might make considerable savings when restricted to a very basic diet on your backpacking outing.

Another valid criticism is that my explanation above doesn’t address the job factor at all. More often then not, our need to earn money forces us to live at a specific place and we would lose that income when traveling, thus making traveling more expansive if you sum up income and expenses. Now, however, the main constrain to travel becomes time, not money. There is a whole different (yet related) argument to have here, why one might want to free up some time for traveling, which I save for later. You might also want to look into ways, how you could make money WHILE traveling. In my case, I usually used the model, where you work in a place and then find a new job or study program somewhere else and use this as an opportunity to a) travel to that place, where I sometimes try to extend the time for some diversions on my way and b) check out the new place, which some people consider traveling as well. Again, the most noble way of traveling, however, is if traveling becomes your life and you do it, because you want to avoid the exploitive world of wage- labor altogether.

The last qualification addresses people, that already live extremely cheap in their non-traveling day-to-day life. Many of my friends (and potential blog readers) are skilled frugalists (of choice or/and necessity) who hardly will be able to reduce their expanses even further while traveling. Interestingly, since these people know how to live on a budget already, they never think that traveling is expansive.

PS: Can anyone give me a pointer, how to embed those mathematic formula nicely into html? I know how to get my pdfs through markdown, but html doesn’t seem to work.

Refugees Welcome – Some thoughts on the current events in Europe

September 6th, 2015 by Johann Strube

While I enjoy labor day weekend in Upstate New York, the news about refugees arriving in Europe are becoming overwhelming. It is strange to observe these historic events from a country, that tends to see itself as the center of the world and yet couldn’t be more away from the events that currently dominate the global news. Isolated by a huge ocean and the unwillingness to take responsibility for a crisis, that is not completely unrelated to American intervention in the Middle East, the US is merely a supporting actor in this plot, at best. To be fair, the US have their own issues with refugees and immigration. No western country has accepted more refugees than the US. And yet, the American willingness to help people escaping from war and political prosecution is very limited in comparison to the millions of refugees in the middle east.
But this article is not about the US, but an attempt to make sense of what is currently happening in Europe. I used to accuse Europe for a racist immigration policy, that willingly accepts thousands of refugees to die in their attempt to cross the border. And I don’t see much reason, or hope, to change my opinion anytime soon. When Merkel is now credited for her human stance on helping refugees, it is less her politics that have changed than it is the number of people trying to find a refuge in Europa. We read about the thousands of refugees that arrive in Germany or Hungary every day, but people continue to die at the borders.
And yet, the tracks of refugees across Europe points out a few issue I like to address:

  • The hundreds of thousands of refugees are a very powerful reminder, that much is messed up in this world. I do not like the term “refugee crisis”, as it implies that the refugees themselves are the problem. But framed differently, the term becomes useful. It is fair to say that every single refugee experiences a personal and a collective crisis. And refugees are a small, often privileged group that represent much greater crises. The war crises in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia etc. cause misery and often death to millions who cannot or do not want to escape. Other crises, as the food crisis, the climate crisis or the poverty crisis add on top of that. While not officially recognized as reasons to seek asylum, they are experienced in a similar way, as a threat to life.  When refugees from these countries come to Europe to seek asylum, it reminds us, that these crises are our crises. Not in a way, that Europe should intervene wherever it can. But certainly in a way, that we rethink our legacy of colonialism and global economic domination, which impact that has on other parts of the world and how we can help each other to solve those crises that threaten us all as humankind. Because we’re all in it together.
  • Europe remains a popular goal for people in distress. Neither Europe’s politics of deportation and closed borders nor [growing numbers of attacks on refugees]() stop people from trying to get there. The degree of political stability and recognition of human rights in Europe compared to countries such as Syria or Afghanistan can’t be taken for granted. I find a lot to criticize and improve in Europe, but sometimes it’s useful to put things in perspective.
  • It is said that Europe (it’s a gross generalization, I know) is good at a few things. In disciplines such as economic power, individual wealth, education, health, even personal well-being, at least some European countries rank in the top tier. But when we see pictures of refugees walking on rail tracks or sleeping in tents or on the street amid the oh-so-wealthy Europe, we have to conclude, that Europe is terrible in being a good host and helper. Europe can built skyscrapers and high-speed trains, but apparently it is incapable of providing for people, that have lost everything and reach out for help.
  • There is growing divide among Europeans and their government(s). While the latter try to stop as many refugees from entering Europe as possible and try to get rid of those who made it, backed up by a to a great extend xenophobic electorate, more and more people take charity in their own hands and organize help to welcome and support refugees. About a year ago, we organized a small group of students at my university to support refugees, who have moved into a shelter right next to our school. When I now see hundreds of volunteers in Vienna (and elsewhere, like Munich or Hungary), who try to help where they can, it gives me hope, that humanity is not lost. It is great to see, how these idealistic and self-organized groups are so much more efficient in providing for people in distress than the officials.
    In a way, this is telling about the neoliberal course Europe is taking. Charity and humanity is privatized and delegated to a minority who has the time and means to provide social services. While I cannot thank those activists enough (and I almost feel guilty that I cannot be among them right now), their commitment is no justification for the government to reduce services. Rather, it should be a signal, that people in Europe are willing and able to support refugees and that their government should follow suit. So if anyone in Europe deserves credit for humanity and helpfulness, it’s the civil society, the activists and not the government(s) nor Europe as a whole.
  • In some way, this current period of flight reminds me of other historic events, when people tried to escape one country to get into another. Remember, when Europe was like the Middle East today and one crazy group called Germans or Nazis tried to dominate and extinguish other Europeans? Millions fled to countries close (like Jordan or Turkey today) and far (just like Germany today). When Merkel announced that refugees in Hungary could proceed to Germany without being stopped it remind me a lot of 1989 when East German refugees in the German embassy suddenly were allowed to move to Western Germany.  Every event is unique and history only repeats so much, but I think it is time to reciprocate the generosity Europeans have experienced during those times.

This entry is mostly an article about the grand scheme of things, of flight and humanity. And yet, we shouldn’t forget this isn’t only an arena of political struggle. It is the sum of million individual stories and destinies of people who risk their lives for a better future. I wish people in Europe keep that in mind when they consider their personal response to the current events.

borders instead of humanity – Why I accuse Europe for the murder of thousands of refugees

April 24th, 2015 by Johann Strube

This is going to be a rant on a racist Europe that kills thousands of refugees each year. To put all my cards on the table, I disapprove of borders (writing this seems as trivial as saying I disapprove of being run over by a car but as it turns out, it is not as trivial). They exist so people inside the borders don’t have to deal with what is going on outside. The whole argument about people from all over the world coming to some presumably “developed” country and thus ultimately lower its standard of life, boils down to the attitude, that those who enjoy this standard of life don’t want to share it. They enjoy being on the favored side of the inequality. Of course, this inequality exists with or without borders. But with borders, it’s much easier not to look at it, making the people inside the borders feel good.
I am aware, that the world being the way it currently is, makes the vision of a human society without borders look like a leftist, anarchist utopia (to those who lack imagination and especially to those, who in fact appreciate their borders). I’m just writing this as a primer on why borders suck in general so you don’t have to point out my position, when I now continue to write, why they suck in particular.

The dying of more than thousand refugees in the Mediterranean during the last week has in fact very little to do with one’s stance on borders in general. Like them or not, it is apparent that people are willing to cross them at all costs, even risking their own lives. And it is also apparent, that the Mediterranean Sea is the kind of border, you either cross or you die. And the European border policy and police makes it clear, they rather see you die than crossing the Mediterranean. One could argue, this is not true, sure do the various European border guards rescue refugees in distress at sea. Oh these hypocrites. Making sure that refugees can’t just take the safe ferries from Tangier or Tunis – and, instead, have to resort to overloaded, life-threatening boats – and then even getting credit for picking a few back out of the water. So what’s gonna happen, if the coast guard destroys potential border crossing boats as has been proposed in the last days? Besides effectively destroying the fishing fleet of the North African countries…rubber boats! Even more distress at sea. Even more deaths.
So if all the people that expressed their sorrow over the most recent catastrophes would actually mean to save lives, they would allow legal and affordable ways of entering the country. What happens then, is where my leftist anarchist vision would come in. In my world, there would be people waiting for the newcomers with music and hot tea and the newcomers could immediately do and get what everyone else is allowed to do or entitled to get. The point is, even if one disagrees with this vision and everyone would have to apply to remain in the country and the application would be assessed according to the rule of the law (as it is now – at least in theory – the case for everyone who manages to get into Europe alive. The theory-qualification is due to the fact, that more often than not, refugees are not treated according to the rule of the law and instead are being abused or deported without a fair process), people would not have to die in the sea. So all the proposals of increasing the funds for search and rescue missions aren’t changing a thing, that refugees still have to resort to the dangerous sea in the first place. The green proposal to not only increase funds but also widen the area in which theses rescue missions can operate, is not an exception.
Therefore, if politicians wanted to save lives, they would NOW allow everyone to legally enter Europe. History has thought us that the unconditional opening of borders from one moment to the other is possible. Compared to the saving of thousands of lives, all the problems that may arise in consequence are subordinate. Kenia, Ethiopia, Jordan, Turkey and Iran have accepted more than 500.000 refugees each. Lebanon and Pakistan more then a million. Did this cause massive humanitarian problems in the refugees camps? Yes. Still, people choose these camp over residing in countries of war, terror, torture and/or political prosecution. I am not saying that massive, slum-like camps are the best way to treat people. They are actually pretty bad. Still, the rescuing of human lives must come first.

I don’t see this happening, though. And as a result, I accuse those in power in Europe and everyone who supports them of racism, as the life of a foreign refugees seem to weigh less than the quality of life of people from inside the border. Secondly, I accuse the same people of complicity to murder. As had been expressed several times, the death of refugees in the Mediterranean is not only accepted, it is used as a (inefficient) tool to control borders by scaring new people from crossing the sea by boat. Thus, refugees die by purpose of the European border policy. To me, that’s an act of active, fatal violence that I, lacking legal expertise but owning a common sense and some degree of sympathy, call murder. Shame on you, Europe.

Ithaca, NY it is

April 24th, 2015 by Johann Strube

One thing I find with blogging is that things usually start seem worth to be written about a few weeks after they happened. And then it takes me another few weeks to allocate the time for writing. What I am really trying to say, is that I moved from Vienna to Ithaca, New York about 2 months ago.
Professor Philip McMichael invited me to write my Master’s thesis on peasant farming in the United States at the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University. I don’t want to go into the actual research quite yet, apart from mentioning that I’m extremely happy to work with Rachel Bezner Kerr and Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen back at BOKU as my supervisors. Working with both of them has been encouraging and empowering to the point to realize, what grad school wasn’t for me during most of my master’s as BOKU. Really, most of it were just a continuation of my Bachelor. Which wasn’t a waste of time, at all, but education can be so much more. Generally, grad school here at the department seem to be more about one’s own development and critical thought rather than just ticking some of the skill boxes on your resume. Long story short, the last 4 months (basically when I started working with Veronika) have been very intellectual challenging and exiting.


Ithaca itself is almost the most ideal setup of a town for my needs. Small enough so everything is easily walkable, buzzing enough so you don’t get bored but inspired and feel connected to the world (thanks to Cornell and Ithaca college) and has great outdoors within easy reach. A major drawback, however, is the seemingly endless winter. It’s late April now and yes, we had snow this morning. To be fair, it’s been in the 80ies only a week ago, but generally speaking, I’m fed up with the cold and I’m not quite decided yet, if I could stand winters like that for several years, notwithstanding the beautiful summers.
Someone asked me this morning, if I thought Ithaca is like Portland, OR. The Portland of the East so to speak. Apart from that there is Portland, ME, I don’t think this is true. Yes, it is a very liberal and progressive city, but unlike Portland, Ithaca has this slightly weird college bubble feel to it. Portland is just weird in itself. That’s at least what the Oregonians say. Also city planning. Ithaca, come on. There’s like zero bike infrastructure and most sidewalks are pretty horrible. At least they exist. But I definitely enjoy the scale of Ithaca and it’s strong ties with the surrounding farmers, which is great both for my research and, you know, every town and city should have strong ties with its surrounding farmers.

So this is the place I am going to spent my life in until late summer.

Oh, there’s another thing that happened during the last months and it’s only now I feel it’s worth mentioning: Photography. While I have always been a busy picture-taker, my artistic ambitions sort of declined over the years. Or put it another way, moving from one place to another, hitchhiking, wwoofing, exploring places, all that was some sort of artistic project in itself, so point-and-shoot along the way yielded quite a few good pictures I hold deeply to my heart (after all, geysers, waterfalls, deserts, oases…there’s not so much you can do to make pictures that aren’t pleasant to look at). Also, it was a deliberate choice to have a simple camera I could bring to all of my trips. Now that has changed a bit. I sold that most-of-the-time-with-me camera to a friend and got a DSLR instead and picked up photography wherever I left it about 10 years ago when I gave away my old, analog film camera. I’m still mostly playing around but I do find some sort of meaning in the photos I take, a way of expressing myself rather then documenting events and trips.

So here are few pictures I took during my first weeks in Ithaca.

field trip to Kasba Tadla, Morocco

November 30th, 2014 by admin

In May I had the chance to take part in a field study in Kasba Tadla, Morocco which I combined with two weeks of travelling across this beautiful country. Lazy blogger I am, I didn’t quite allocated the time to write about it – apart from diary entries and the research report.
Alas, it was my first stay south of the Mediterranean sea. And while I leave the description of the beautiful landscapes that change dramatically as you cross the country away from the coast, south through a chain of several mountain ranges (being the Rif mountains and the numerous manifestations of the Atlas) right into the Sahara as well as a portrait of the rich cultural heritage to the travel writing trade (as well to my photography and real-life in-your-face story-telling), I’d like to point out that Morocco is probably a good start if you aim to leave the European bubble without feeling completely lost and helpless. Face it, it is some beautiful country and if you’re priviledged enough to be on a vacation and not having to make a living, it’s the most relaxing place I can think of. “Très tranquille” as they say. Actually, I’d like to make the point, that even if you HAVE TO make a living, it can be a very relaxing place. I’m not going to romanticize the life of Moroccan peasants and city dwellers alike. Most people we’ve talked to gave accounts on their hardships, the daunting unemployment and inapt politicians. However, most people in Morocco alloted time for the most basic yet important thing: time spent in community with friends and strangers alike. Being invited by complete strangers for a good “thé à la menthe” made me wonder, what I do with all the time in my life.

Our research was titled “Urban primary production of food.” Originally, we meant to work on urban subsistence production. However, we began to question the viability of the term “subsistence” in this specific context. Unlike in Europe, the distinction of the two domains of labor for subsistence and labor for profit is highly blurred. It is not too say, the term is completely inapplicable. It would “simply” require a new re-definition which we didn’t quite have the time for in this one week field trip. One of the things that screams: “Further Research!”

In three of Kasba Tadla’s quarters, Hay Dakhla, Hay Berraka and Dar Draouech, we surveyed fruit trees, livestock husbandry and kitchen gardens. Thinking about the effort that grassroots movements all across the industrialized countries invest in order to push forward (small-scale) food production in cities, we were amazed to see, it is all in place in Kasba Tadla. So who is the developed country? Another term that lost its suitability. At the same time, we were shocked to realize, how much these practices are frowned upon by the local government. They dismiss subsistence as something backward of semi-wild, rural peasants that doesn’t fit into a modern city. It is cynical: A group of European academics come to Morroco to critize a political position that had been implemented by European academics (and other colonialists) in the first place. How can we know, we’re right this time?

To sum up, we have shown that primary production of food takes place to a significant amount in Kasba Tadla. While it doesn’t allow for self-sufficiency, it contributes to local resilience by reducing the amount of food that needs to be imported, by preserving local knowledge on food production and processing and by strengthening human relationship s1in the community. It is also of outstanding cultural value and, thus, adds to the quality of life of the population of Kasba Tadla.

Choir Corridor

October 27th, 2014 by Johann Strube

Back in November 2013 I had the honor to sing with the BOKU-Choir in Seth Weiner’s performance “Choir Corridor” at the Museum of Applied Arts Vienna (MAK). It’s been a great experience and luckily, the MAK published some footage of the show. While, obviously, it doesn’t quite capture the spatial quality of the performance, it still offers some good impressions what the whole fuzz was about.

Festrede zum BOKU-Ball – Bildung: Befähigung zum kritischen und emanzipatorischen Denken und Handeln statt Wirtschaftshörigkeit.

February 2nd, 2014 by Johann Strube

Am Freitag, den 31. Jänner 2014 fand wie jedes Jahr der BOKU-Ball statt. Als GastgeberInnen hatten wir vom Vorsitzteam der ÖH BOKU die Ehre, eine Rede zu halten. Da die fremdenfeindliche Reaktion des Österreichischen Bundesminister für Land- und Forstwirtschaft, Umwelt und Wasserwirtschaft, Andrä Rupprechter noch für Gesprächsstoff sorgen wird, habe ich mir gedacht, dass es sinnvoll wäre, die Rede, auf die sich BM Rupprechter bezogen hat, hier wiederzugeben.

“Von der großen weiten Welt wollen wir jedoch den Blick wieder zu uns nach Österreich schwenken.
Vor der Ökonomisierung der Bildung warnen Studierende schon seit Jahren. Doch spätestens mit der Eingliederung des Wissenschaftsressort in das Wirtschaftsministerium dürfte allen klar sein: Die Wissenschaftspolitik in Österreich hat vor den Interessen der Wirtschaft kapituliert. Nicht, dass dem in den letzten Jahren anders gewesen wäre. Es ist nur ein symbolischer Schritt, aber eben auch ein sehr deutlicher.

Wenn wir heute einen Universitätsball feiern, dann jedoch um die wahren akademischen Tugenden zu feiern. Und diese sind eben nicht Wirtschaftshörigkeit – oder gar mensurschlagender Elitarismus – sondern das humanistische Ideal des kritischen und emanzipatorischen Denken und Handelns.

“Donau – Ein Fluss der verbindet” ist das Motto dieses Balls und bietet gleichzeitig ein hervorragendes Beispiel, dass die Fähigkeit zu kritischer Reflektion und das über den Tellerrand hinausschauen auch in den technischen Disziplinen von äußerster Wichtigkeit sind. Ohne diese Fähigkeiten würden AbsolventInnen der BOKU heute immer noch Fließgewässer begradigen und verbauen statt sie zu renaturisieren. Als 1984, also heuer vor 30 Jahren, der geplante Bau eines Wasserkraftwerks die Hainburger Au stromabwärts von Wien bedrohte, waren es zu einem großen Teil kritische Studierende der Bodenkultur, die dies verhinderten und so die Grundlage für den Nationalpark Donau-Auen schufen.

Lasst uns als Universität des Lebens diese Tugenden hochhalten und verteidigen, damit in Zukunft die Wissenschaft in Österreich wieder den Stellenwert einnimmt, den sie verdient.”