Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Robert Rhoades, March 7, 2002

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search this Index
X
00:00:00 - Interest in agriculture

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Yes. Okay. This is, uh, uh, 3/7, uh, that's, uh, March 7th, we’re at the Sheraton Colony Square Hotel in Atlanta, and I'm--this is John Van Willigen talking with Robert Rhoades.

Segment Synopsis: Rhoades describes how he became interested in agriculture and agricultural anthropology. He says that he grew up on a farm in Oklahoma before obtaining an agriculture degree from Oklahoma State University. He then joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Nepal then subsequently obtained a PhD. He says that he continued to study agriculture while also employing anthropology to the point that he referred to himself as an agricultural anthropologist. He describes his different jobs within the agricultural field, including working for international centers. He also describes his various teaching positions at smaller colleges.

Keywords: Agricultural anthropology; Agriculture; Anthropology; Education; Farms

Subjects: Agriculture; Anthropology; Education; Farms

00:05:44 - History of agricultural anthropology

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Which I think, then, leads us to that history that I was explaining this morning.

Segment Synopsis: Rhoades outlines the history of agricultural anthropology. He says that the term 'agricultural anthropology' was first used in the early 1940s. He describes the food studies by the University of Chicago and the Mead and Benedict group. He then describes several major studies in applied anthropology and agricultural anthropology through the 1960s.

Keywords: Agricultural anthropology; Agriculture; Anthropology; Applied anthropology; Farms

Subjects: Agriculture; Anthropology; Farms

00:12:51 - Graduate school in anthropology

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, when did you enroll at, um--

Segment Synopsis: Rhoades discusses his time at the University of Oklahoma where he obtained his PhD. He describes how he studied applied anthropology and cultured ecology. He discusses the various classes that he took and how they shaped his views and interests in agricultural anthropology.

Keywords: Agricultural anthropology; Agriculture; Anthropology; Applied anthropology; Education

Subjects: Agriculture; Anthropology; Education

00:15:44 - Early career / Potato Center

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, in nineteen seven--but I did my dissertation on a totally different topic.

Segment Synopsis: Rhoades discusses his early career after he obtained his PhD. He says that he taught at several small colleges but that teaching is not what he wanted to do. He says that there were very few educational jobs at that time so he began working for an international
agricultural research center funded by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1979. He describes how he worked for the Potato Center in Peru. He then describes the Potato Center and his supervisor, Rob Verge.

Keywords: Agricultural anthropology; Anthropology; Applied anthropology; Education

Subjects: Anthropology; Education

00:21:22 - Duties at the Potato Center

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I was assigned my first job to evaluate a project called maximizing potato productivity.

Segment Synopsis: Rhoades describes his focus and duties at the Potato Center. He says he was tasked with developing potato development technology and distributing them to the local people. He says that he had to research what the local farmers in the Mantaro Valley thought of the new techniques and technology. He also learned what they needed and what problems they encountered. He then explains the various problems and concerns that the farmers thought about the project and experiments. He says that he was ultimately removed from his team but he still worked for the project. He also describes how he was involved with another team that was tasked with getting the farmers to adopt new and more productive practices. He explains how he had to understand their cultural practices in order to inform the agriculture team. He says that they were ultimately successful and their practices were adopted around the world.

Keywords: Agricultural anthropology; Agriculture; Anthropology; Farming; International agricultural research centers; Potato Center

Subjects: Agriculture; Anthropology; Farming

00:36:17 - Farmer-back-to-farmer model

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Now, however, we still were very much, uh, what would you call, in a subordinates position.

Segment Synopsis: Rhoades describes the farmer-back-to-farmer model that he helped to develop while working in Peru. He says that he and his colleague, Bob Booth, were required to give a presentation of their work at a conference. He explains how they prepared for the presentation, in which they explained the principle of the farmer to farmer model, where the process of developing technology begins with a farmer's problem and is only solved once that farmer accepts it and implements it in his daily use. He discusses the reception of their ideas and how they published their work.

Keywords: Agricultural anthropology; Agriculture; Anthropology

Subjects: Agriculture; Anthropology; Farming

00:46:05 - Acceptance of the farmer-back-to-farmer model

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Now, of course all of this still meant bad blood at home.

Segment Synopsis: Rhoades describes the process of acceptance of his farmer-back-to-farmer model within the Potato Center. He says that it was greeted with skepticism at first but was eventually accepted. He also discusses how their model was implemented throughout the world.

Keywords: Agricultural anthropology; Agriculture; Anthropology; Farming

Subjects: Agricultural anthropology; Agriculture; Anthropology; Farming

00:57:54 - Bob Booth

Play segment

Partial Transcript: One of the things I’ve always been curious about is Bob Booth, because I mean--

Segment Synopsis: Rhoades discusses Bob Booth and his assistance in creating the farmer-back-to-farmer model. He says that Booth worked with the technical side of things and that they would conflict with their approaches and focuses at points. He says that they learned a lot from each other and worked together to create the model.

Keywords: Agricultural anthropology; Agriculture; Anthropology; Applied anthropology; Farmer-back-to-farmer model; Farming

Subjects: Agriculture; Anthropology; Farming

01:01:59 - Farmer-back-to-farmer team / Problems encountered

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So this was really developed--and, and see what’s--this was just a team of, at maximum three of us, four of us.

Segment Synopsis: Rhoades describes the farmer-back-to-farmer team. He mentions Bob Booth, Roy Shoal, and Rob Werge. He also describes the problems that they encountered while trying to implement their model within other programs and institutions.

Keywords: Agricultural anthropology; Agriculture; Anthropology; Applied anthropology; Farmer-back-to-farmer model; Farming

Subjects: Agriculture; Anthropology; Farming