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Agroecology, feminism and food sovereignty? Uneasy bedfellows or a sweet reunion?

Authors: Rachel Bezner Kerr*, Cornell University, Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong, University of Denver, Sekhar Nagothu, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), Blessings Chinsinga, University of Malawi, Chancellor College
Topics: Food Systems, Cultural and Political Ecology, Africa
Keywords: feminist political ecology, agroecology, gender, Malawi, food sovereignty
Session Type: Paper
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This paper explores the potential for agroecology to address long term food sovereignty in Malawi, and the links (or lack thereof) with feminist practice. We examine alternative framings of agriculture in light of social, political and ecological considerations, using concepts from feminist political ecology and critical agrarian studies. Drawing on long-term research in Malawi with smallholder households who are utilizing agroecological methods, we examine some of the challenges, contradictions and tensions over the use of agroecological alternatives to the ‘Green Revolution’ approach, particularly in terms of power dynamics related to labor and knowledge intensive farming. We argue that these approaches, when used in conjunction with close attention to political and social inequalities, and critical epistemological methods, may help to build food sovereignty but questions of gender and other social inequities must be addressed for transformation of the dominant productivist approach to food security in Africa. We conclude that stronger alliances and policy spaces related to feminist practice and other intersections of inequity must be created if alternatives to neoliberal agriculture are to lead to significant change.

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