Weekend reading: Food sovereignty in Ghana
Joeva Sean Rock. We Are Not Starving: The Struggle for Food Sovereignty in Ghana. Michigan State University Press, 2022. 188 pages
I enjoyed getting to know Joeva Rock when she had a fellowship in my NYU department, and was honored to be asked to blurb her book:
We Are Not Starving is an utterly compelling account of how the failure of international donors to understand and respect the recipients of development aid contributes to the failure of their projects. Through the industry’s attempts to introduce GMO crops in Ghana, anthropologist Joeva Rock draws lessons essential for anyone who wants international development to work. If you want to understand the real, on-the-ground politics of GMOs, start here.
A couple of excerpts from the manuscript:
- Ghanaian officials recognized the limitations posed by IPRs [Intellectual Property Rights] as an important way to collect financial benefits from GMO. Thus, rather than describe GMOs as a humanitarian technology, as donors sought to do, Ghanaian officials and scientists went out of their way to stress that, when coupled with IPRs, GM seeds were “the secret” to obtaining profit, revenue that was sorely needed in the post-structural adjustment era of gutted state infrastructure.
- Ghanaians continually critiqued global discourses and development industry standards wherein philanthropists and professionals in the Global North set boundaries for conversations about hunger, collapse Africa into a homogenized, starving entity, and the prescribe solutions based on these racialized myths. These critiques are reflective of recipient fatigue and are often held in tension with discourse emanating from the same donors that sponsor the work of GMO advocates, who rely on images and texts that depict Africa as languishing and starving.