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This paper compares scholarly concepts of resilience with primary factors influencing Albuquerque's smallholder farmers' decisions to continue farming. In doing so, it highlights the voices of local farmers and critically examines the scope and limitations of resilience theory. Although resilience theory has gained popularity as a tool for understanding complex social-ecological systems, recent scholarship questions the applicability of resilience to social systems. In particular, questions have been raised as to whether current resilience theory adequately addresses issues of power and agency. By focusing on farmers as decision makers, this paper seeks to evaluate these claims by examining the utility of resilience theory in a case study involving smallholder farms in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Qualitative research methods were employed in the form of farm visits and semi-structured interviews with ten Albuquerque smallholder farms. Interviews were transcribed and then coded for analysis. Overwhelmingly, farmers plan on continuing to farm though three factors were identified which would alter these decisions. Furthermore, connection to place and self-sufficiency emerged as key motivators for continuing to farm. Although basic resilience concepts may be useful tools for understanding the general context of farmers' experiences, farmers' connection to place and expressions of power and agency are not adequately addressed using basic resilience concepts. Research findings illustrate that fully comprehending farmers' decision to continue farming requires thoughtful attention to connection to place. Potential remedies to these limitations are addressed by looking at, and expanding upon, resilience theory as it is used in real world assessments by way of the Resilience Alliance Workbook (2007).

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First Advisor

Harm Benson, Melinda

First Committee Member (Chair)

Duvall, Chris

Second Committee Member

Milstein, Tema

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Project Sponsors

United States Department of Agriculture Hispanic Serving Institutions Grant




resilience, food systems, local food, small scale agriculture, Albuquerque, New Mexico