Authors: Serena Stein*, Princeton University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Agricultural Geography, Africa
Keywords: cultural anthropology, agriculture, mining, environment, political ecology
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
This paper examines the overlapping political economies of food production and coal extraction in northern Mozambique, based on 30 months of ethnographic research in the Nacala Development Corridor. The idea of development corridors as pathways to agricultural development has been represented as a new trend in rural development strategy in the Global South: a way to attract simultaneous, coordinated investments in various sectors, usually combining public and private investments, and organized around existing natural resources. Africa now serves as a laboratory for such megaprojects, where emerging corridors represent new epicenters for investment in energy extraction, corporate agriculture and infrastructure development.
Mozambique is a fitting site from which to study the production of space and overlapping sectors of agriculture and energy: Nacala Corridor anticipates the construction of logistics for massive coal extraction at Moatize with coinciding investment in agricultural commercialization. Concurrently, rural development schemes make promises of improved food security and poverty reduction for local populations, especially through technology transfers by both longstanding donors of development aid and emerging players like Brazil and China.
Taking an anthropological approach to the social production of agro-energy landscapes, the paper reflects upon metaphors of ‘exhaustion’ and ‘waste’ (‘cansaço’ and ‘sobra’) used by Mozambican farmers to express the marginal state of smallholder farmers and endangered farming futures that emerge. I ask, to what extent does the agro-energy corridor perpetuates a long history that uses food security as a convenient political and ethical entry into extraction by both colonial and contemporary states?