The Political Ecology of Biodiversity and Nutrition in Relation to Disease and Health: Integrating Critical Social and Environmental Sciences

Authors: Karl Zimmerer*, Pennsylvania State University
Topics: Environment, Development, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Political Ecology, Biodiversity, Nutrition, Disease, Health, Concepts and Theory, Environmental Sciences, Peru, Global Nutritional Transition, Agrobiodiversity, Indigenous People
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Roosevelt 1, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This presentation examines the dynamic interactions among changing agrarian production systems, environmental change, and human and non-human health through a focus on biodiversity and nutrition in relation to food, nutrition, disease, and health. It focuses on the multilayered, embodied, entangled contexts of these negotiated processes and human and non-human worlds. The presentation constructs a new conceptual framework and utilizes recent empirical data and analysis from the multi-team-member Huánuco food, biodiversity, and nutrition project (2016-2018) in central Peru. The region’s agrarian dynamics consists predominantly of indigenous smallholders and their communities who are considered marginal in the official national agricultural economy though their lands, labor, resources, and knowledge, amongst other factors, are highly articulated with global commodity markets through migration, urbanization, and resource extraction and illicit economies. The landscapes of the upper Amazon and adjoining Andes are being transformed. The framework builds on an original instrumental and reflexive approach integrating the critical social and environmental sciences. New insights and importance of the multilayered intersections of food biodiversity, human nutrition, disease and health are motivated by, and inform, such policy and activist issues as nutritional security, agrarian development, urbanization, sustainability, social justice, climate change, and disease and health in the so-called Global Nutritional Transition. This presentation draws on and extends beyond the findings and interpretations contained in a group of recent articles published in Progress in Human Geography (Zimmerer 2018; https://doi.org/10.1177/0309132517691629a), The Journal of Nutrition (Jones et al. 2018; https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxy166), and Revista: Harvard Review of Latin America (Zimmerer et al. 2018; https://revista.drclas.harvard.edu/book/climate-change-and-food).

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