Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. Juli 2006

2.4. Das Open Source Dorf - The Open Source Village
Herausgeber | Editor | Éditeur: Franz Nahrada (Wien) / Uwe Christian Plachetka (Universität Wien, Institut für Risikoforschung)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

The Open Source Village and the technology of Integrated Micro-Climatic Management Systems (INCMAS - Technology): A new evolutionary perspective

Uwe Christian Plachetka (Universität Wien, Institut für Risikoforschung)



The present article is written in a Cybercafé in the Cuidad Imperial del Cusco, Peru during the 2nd part of the project "Oil Reduced Agriculture". We acknowledge our gratidute to the Austrian Academy of Science. Our contributions to the IRICs - event have been described in the hitherto unpublished intermediate report.



El presente articulo está escrito en la Ciudad Imperial del Cusco en el transcurso de la segunda parte del proyecto "oil reduced agricultura" respaldado por la Academia de las Ciencias de Austria, Unión Europea bajo el marco GECAF (Cambio ecológico global y la futura de la alimentación).


The conception of "Open Source Villages"

The conception of "Open Source Village" was the result of the research work of the Austrian laboratory GIVE - Global Integrated Village Environment, especially by Franz Nahrada(1). This concept refers to settlement patterns which have a kind of dual economy: Closed circuits for producing goods and services on a village level by mobilizing local, renewable resources such as sunlight, wind, water, and biomass. Qualified workplaces should be offered by means of telework, that means work to be done at home or communal centers using the new media of telecommunication. Global cooperatives can be established by means of tele-cooperation so that commuting to the urban or megalopolis centers which often act as intersections between the World-System and the local social system and thereby offering qualified white collar workplaces can be reduced by "virtualizing the cities" i.e. putting the functional priorities of the cities online to make them accessible by villagers.

This utopian conception has considerable significance for the reconstruction of rural social life and local economics - especially in terms of decentralization and reducing bulk transport and, therefore, the use of petrol.

The basic sociological idea is to realize cooperative networks which proved viable e.g. among virtual communities developing shareware, software and - as their showcase - the computer system LINUX to fight the worldwide monopoly by Microsoft. The conception of Global Integrated Village Environment is based on the idea to establish cooperative circles of redistribution and cooperation outside the virtual sphere of cyberspace. These are known as ayné o ayni in the language of the Inca Empire, Quechua, spoken until now in Perú and Bolivia.


The conception of High-tech self-production

The reconstruction of local economics cannot go back to Neolithic modes of production - simply for demographic reasons. The idea of some eco-villages etc. has a considerable boundary condition for their viability: The hours of work required for agriculture and home-made cloth etc. In the terminology of GIVE these models are known as subsistencia neolítica.

The concept of shared high-tech self-production which means to increase the efficiency of a village’s "chore" (Greek term for the lands dedicated to supply a polis) by using information processes for the optimum level of mobilizing local renewable resources such as sunlight, water, wind, biomass etc. needs the mobilization of what is known as "collective intelligence" since Pierre Lévy’s famous book on this matter (Lévy 1994) which means the interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary cooperation of various experts such as agronomists, computer experts, architects etc. The chief challenge is the mobilization of brainforce in order to make each work hour for agricultural production more profitable. This is realized by so-called agricultural objects which mobilize the renewable resources. High-tech self-production is highly advocated by the philosopher Friethjof Bergmann(2) who seeks a redefinition of work. The chief point is that the neoliberal regime of the labor market fails to offer sufficient workplaces and enough work is left which is necessary but not paid - the complete sphere of reproduction. This causes as well migration from the so-called 3 rd world to the affluent social classes of the 1 st world, which is major concern of the sociologists here in Peru (see the study by the Peruvian sociologist Liliana Muñoz)(3). In brief, there is a trend among Latin American scientists to say that the costs of reproducing life in e.g. Europe are now financed not by the "industrial reserve army" (Marx) but by a "reproductive reserve army" working in hospitals, nannies etc. The sociological focus of Franz Nahrada’s concept of global integrated villages signifies that, due to the dependency of the all of human life on monetarist economics, this will eventually lead to a breakdown of the reproductive capacities of Western society - because, due to the imparity of purchase power, the low wages for migrants are not too bad - in terms of purchase power calculated by a "canasta familiar" - a basket of a families everyday needs - 1 Peruvian Sol has - still - the purchase power of one Euro in Austria. The exchange rate in fact is 1 Euro for 3,5 to 4 Soles, so the money sent home by migrants is in fact a factor in Peru’s domestic economy. This means that the neoliberal "Empire" (Hardt/Negri 2000) can exchange the internal proletariat (terminus used by Toynbee) by the external proletariat. The common denominator between Fritjof Bergmann’s "New Work" and Hardt/Negri’s Empire is the crisis of the system of the labor market.

In short, what Nahrada and Bergmann propose is the subsistencia telemática.


Anthropological models already known to describe the sociology of global integrated village environments

In sociological terms the economy of the susbistencia telemática and hence the Global Integrated Villages is the Aristotelian differentiation between oikonomía - the domestic economy - and chrematistike - monetary economy. Nowadays the term oikonomia is almost exclusively used for money economy - economics etc. Karl Polanyi was the first to describe the embedded economics of early Empires.

These systems of reciprocity and assisted trade eroded with the "Great Transformation" - as Polanyi labeled his book which appeared first 1944 -later he described exactly the system of embedded economies in the early empires especially those of Assur. These interpretative frameworks of archaeological patterns had a master narrative: V. Gordon Childe (1942) who introduced the term "Neolithic Revolution". So the standard sequence of social evolution as presented by the distinguished US - American anthropologist Julian H. Steward and the Sinologist Karl Anton Wittfogl was characterized by the idea of urbanization as a precursor of state building. Anyway, the economics of assisted trade and reciprocity was still implied by the concept of "just prices" or similar concepts. The concept of the "just price" stems from medieval scholastic philosophy and does not exist in terms of mathematical economics. So the term "moral economics" was introduced.


Social evolution oriented towards brain - force: The knowledge-based path.

In contrast to the master-narrative of social evolution according to the Steward-Wittfogl model the present US-American ethno-archaeology is oriented towards the comparative study of Empires. But the great congress on Empires failed to offer a concise model for explaining the rise and demise of Empires. The World-System approach considers Empires as cultural areas brought into a central power’s aegis (see the discussions in D’Altroy 2002:5-7), so we can conclude that an Empire is what the idealistically minded historian Arnold Toynbee has labeled a "universal state". There are some such idealistic approaches still used as conceptual frameworks in American archaeology, e.g. the definition of the horizon style according to Kroeber and the orientation towards ceramic styles as distinctive traits for certain societies. The period of the so-called "Neolithic revolution" is usually known as the Formative Stage to US cultural anthropology which I prefer here to post-modern approaches for the sake of food security.

The process of the so-called "Neolithical Revolution" is still poorely understood as there are centers of original crop biodiversity representing the genetic reserves of those few staple crops which feed the world: The Vavilov centers.

Fig. 1: Centers of original crop biodiversity.

In fact, the South American center (Ha) has two sub-centers Hb and Hc. Each centeris considered to be the intermediate stage of the process of crop domestication, the land-races which are the "poor relatives" of modern races of staple food such as -in our case - the potatoes. In addition to these areas of original biodiversity are the areas of incipient civilizations. The folk traditions of these cultural areas are great traditions now suppressed by the waves of European colonialism and imperialistic ways of globalizing, so these peoples are classified as "pueblos testimonios" by the Brazilian anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro (1969). We can assume that the famous /farmer based selection criteria/ to create new land races in order to enhance the seeds were somehow developed by the incipient civilizations and handed down through time by peasant belief systems or peasant traditions.

So, since the Vavilov centers are sometimes not the regions of crop origin but the regions of the utmost of crop biodiversity, the question arises why this initial crop diversity was a necessity. In the case of the potato the centers of the greatest biodiversity are the centers of the origin of the following crops:

Oca and Ollucu were required for crop rotation especially in the Andean Highlands, the Altiplano. The Canihua (Kaniwa) is a special case at it is a staple crop for cold areas such as the Altiplano around the Lake Titicaca, the cradle of the Highland tradition of the Andean civilizations. Stanish (2003:23) explains the development of the Highland tradition of the Andean civilizations - the Tiwanaku - by the models of the Russian agronomist Catjanov but it is quite possible that the domestication of the Kaniwa (Chenopodium pallidicaule, National Research Council 1989:129) which can be cultivated above the production zones of wheat, rye and corn allowed the Tiwanaku development as allowing crop rotation because potatoes must not be seeded on the same field within a period of at least seven years. Oca and Ollucu figure at crop rotation realized at the banks of the lake in raised fields (camellones) which are the best example of mobilizing local resources.

Fig 2: Camellones, raised fields as mean of mobilizing local resources.

Due to the experiences in Huatta by Clark Erikson the efficiency of camellones are proven - but modern peasants do not want to produce them because of the long working hours required for their production.


Open Source Food produced by Open Source Villages

In contrast to the standard scheme of social evolution by which aspects of the Andean civilization are usually interpreted, the Peruvian archaeologist Frederico Kaufmann-Doig (1990) offered a different perspective: Not the ceramics but the food systems should be taken as the distinctive trait for Andean development. He makes a difference between incipient agriculture and development agriculture. Although his book is a detailed description of relevant aspects, he doesn’t offer sufficient data on paleobotanics to allow a correlation between the levels of socio-political integration and the varieties used.

Nevertheless, artificial irrigation is used in two different ways: The common way at the coastal desert of Peru to get water to the fields and in a more sophisticated way in the Highland as a method of risk-reduction i.e. manipulating micro-climatic conditions. This purpose and the fact that the Inca empire had a large extension in the North-South direction, the adaption of seeds to the corresponding latitude - that is of importance for a plant’s photoperiod - required sophisticated calculations and climatic simulation devices such as the site of Moray which simulated the climatic conditions of the "sacred valley" nearby Cusco. The Vavilov centers are now jeopardized by biopiracy because the Open Source Food is a challenge to the dominance of transnational food companies and their genetic enhancement of seeds, which can be copyrighted.

Fig. 3:Moray

In his new book John Earls (2005) describes the knowledge-based Andean agriculture as a mean of risk-reduction due to the environmental risks of high-altitude agriculture using the theoretical scheme of the "Global Integrated Village Environment" (Earls 2005:15) as an offspring of our present project:

© Uwe Christian Plachetka (Universität Wien, Institut für Risikoforschung)






Picture sources:

Fig 1:

Fig 2:

Fig 3: Photo, taken by the author, August 2005


Altieri Miguel A.and Susanna B. Hecht (eds) (1990) Agroecology and Small Farm development- Boca Raton- Ann Arbor- Boston

Childe, V. Gordon (1942) What Happened in History, span. Ed: (2002) Qué sucedió en Historia - Barcelona-Madrid: pocket book

D’Altroy, Terence N (2002) The Incas, Malden/Oxford

Earls, John (2005) La agricultura andina ante una globalización en desplome (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, Económicas, Políticas y Antropológicas de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú: Series: Investigaciones Nr.1), Lima

Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri (2000) Empire, Cambridge -Mass

Kaufmann Doig, Frederico (1990) Introducción al Perú Antiguo. Una nueva perspectiva,Lima (complete ed. 1991).

Lévy, Pierre (1994) L’intelligence collective, Paris

Merrick, Laura C. (1990) "Crop Genetic Diversity and its conservation in traditional agroecosystems" in Altieri/Hecht (1990:3-11)Murra,John Victor (1980) The Economic Organization of the Inca Empire (Researches in Economic Anthropology Supp.1), Greenwich, Conn.

National Research Council (1989) Lost Crops of the Incas. Little-known plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation. National Academic Press, Washington D.C.

Ribeiro, Darcy (1969) Las Américas y la civilización, Buenos Aires

Stanish, Charles (2003) Ancient Titicaca. The Evolution of Complex Society in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia, Berkely, Los Angeles, London

2.4. Das Open Source Dorf - The Open Source Village

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For quotation purposes:
Uwe Christian Plachetka (Wien, KONAK): The Open Source Village and the technology of Integrated Micro-Climatic Management Systems (INCMAS – Technology): A new evolutionary perspective. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005. WWW:

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