Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
The paper focuses on gendered roles in climate-smart seed breeding programs, taking seriously feminist and indigenous STS perspectives to reflect on self-consciously 'feminist' interventions in seed scientist (which has been recently considered as historically an overwhelmingly masculinist, productivist, heteronormative Eurocentric science). As a thread of field research conducted over 24 months from 2015-2018, I follow plant geneticists and plant breeders from a USA midwest university, Brazilian state agronomists, and NGO agricultural extension workers in food security and agricultural commercialization initiatives among smallholder farmers in northern Mozambique. A major component of their activities with smallholder farmers is to adapt tropical soybean to Mozambique. This unfolds amid a broader reckoning in international seed improvement schemes in the New Green Agenda, as scientists (re)consider ways to incorporate African women's participation in seed breeding and toward making better 'use' of indigenous plant knowledge so that smallholder agriculture can better cope with environmental changes like drought intensification and soil degradation. The paper contributes to unfolding conversations around how the notion of a more 'feminist science' engenders particular notions of women's care (e.g. domesticity, vulnerability, subsistence and responsibility for familial nourishment and nutrition) that in practice deepen gender ideologies that many small-scale farmers contest, who rather propose a more 'radical feminist' ethico-political project - and namely, one that, paradoxically and problematically, finds emancipation through capitalist market inclusion.