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Funded studentship: The Local Politics of the Post-War Agricultural Transition in Devon

We are currently advertising an ESRC South West Doctoral Training Centre (SWDTC) Studentship entitled The Local Politics of the Post-War Agricultural Transition in Devon.  Ref: 1664

Project description:

The challenge of feeding the nation during the Second World War, under the familiar slogan ‘dig for victory’, is well known.  Farmers were subject to unprecedented levels of state supervision and control.  For many, though not all, farmers this was made palatable by the important role of leading farmers as members of the County War Agricultural Executive Committees which spearheaded the food production campaign. What is less well known is that county and district committees were retained after the war and lasted until 1972, albeit with reduced powers after 1958.  The voluminous papers and minutes of these committees offer a unique and largely untapped insight into agricultural history over a twenty five year period providing local flavour and detailed data. The proposed PhD research will utilise the archived papers to shed light on some or all of the following four main issues.  First, how did the work of the committees change in the post-war period as food shortages receded? For example, to what extent did committees cease to deliver government policy and instead act as a means to lobby government?  Secondly, the committees had a role to play in promoting and administering grants and recording of these grants provides an opportunity for the analysis of the timing and geographical spread of technical change. Thirdly, there is the potential for analysis of geographical variation in agricultural advice and extension activities and linking that to technical change. Fourthly, some committees undertook farm surveys in the 1950s which should allow some comparison with the 1941 National Farm Survey thereby shedding light on occupancy change during this period.

Post-war district committee minutes for Devon are held by the Devon Heritage Centre and the county committee and other specialist sub-committee minutes are held at the National Archives in Kew. 

Collaborative partner: Devon County Council, Devon Heritage Centre.

For details including how to apply please visit the website at

Closing date for applications: 12 February 2015

16 December 2014

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