Gender and Data Production in a Coffee Farmers' Cooperative

Authors: Tad Mutersbaugh*, University of Kentucky
Topics: Social Theory, Gender, Latin America
Keywords: Mexico-Oaxaca, Gender, Financialization, Geodata, Cooperatives
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Johnson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The expansion of data production in rural areas has received a significant push from efforts by farmers’ cooperatives due to the changing economies of value production. Using research on a large Mexican coffee producers’ union, I will argue that the steady deterioration – and occasional steep decline – in commodity prices has caused producer unions to seek new sources of income, sources that depend upon production of geodata, quality data, and financial data. Three data-driven income sources covered in this presentation include higher-quality specialty markets, environmental services income, and state-sponsored production assistance. Each income source requires the production and ordering of personal data and exerts differential gender effects due to gendered differences in farming. ‘Qualities’ payments require qualities data (gourmet, fairtrade, organic, biodiverse): gender has even become a quality in the case of women-grown coffee. Environmental services payments depend upon geocoded environmental data that demonstrates, for instance, carbon density and species richness, in which the drive to ecological ‘improvement’ may pressure women’s cultivation strategies. Production subsidies depend upon data production and registration, each of which may exclude those, often women, without official documents. This presentation will explore the material and ethical implications of these novel data production efforts, and their impacts on gender equity.

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