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Consortium Speaker Series

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Upcoming Speaker Events

Gender, Generations, and Guns Where the State Does Not Govern: The Political Economy of Justice and Rights in Rural South Africa

Sindiso Mnisi Weeks
Assistant Professor, Public Policy of Excluded Populations, School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, University of Massachusetts Boston 

March 4, 2019
4:00pm - 6:00pm

Integrated Sciences Complex, 3rd Floor, Conference Room 3300, UMass Boston

RSVP

Dr. Mnisi Weeks will discuss the political economy of rural South Africa, drawing from the ethnographic research she conducted for her book Access to Justice and Human Security: Cultural Contradictions in Rural South Africa. Her research reveals how historical conditions and contemporary pressures grounded in severe neglect and harm by the state have resulted in a toxic mix of gender dynamics, intergenerational tensions, and easy accessibility and reliance on firearms as a means of conflict management that has strained traditional justice mechanisms’ ability to deliver the high normative ideals with which they are notionally linked. This prompts her to question what forms of justice are accessible in insecure contexts and what solutions are viable under such volatile human conditions.

This event is being cosponsored by the UMass Boston CLA Dean's Office; Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance Dept; History Dept; Political Science Dept; Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Dept; the Honors College; the Sociology Club; the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences; and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy.

“Crippled for Cassava”? Gender, History, and Violence in a Mozambique Development Scheme

Heidi Gengenbach
Assistant Professor of History, College of Liberal Arts, University of Massachusetts Boston

April 2, 2019
2:00pm - 4:00pm

Integrated Sciences Complex, 3rd Floor, Conference Room 3300, UMass Boston

RSVP

In this talk, Gengenbach draws on interviews, survey data, and archives to understand women’s responses to a controversial development project in Mozambique. The project, supported by USAID and the Gates Foundation, purchases women’s staple food crop for the manufacture of Impala, the world’s first cassava-based commercial beer. Modeled on the “New Green Revolution for Africa” approach to hunger-reduction, the project claims that women’s adoption of high-yield varieties and chemical inputs will enable them to earn in-come and improve food security through the sale of “surplus” cassava. Yet in coastal southern Mozambique, where women have grown, cooked, and traded this American root crop for 250 years, project implementers have faced angry opposition—including charges of extortion and assault—from the very farmers they purport to help. Gengenbach analyzes these charges historically, linking women’s conversion of a foreign cultigen into an edible commodity with the gendered violence of competing slave trades, and a precolonial “indigenous agricultural revolution” (Richards 1985) with women’s fight to preserve a cassava-centered food system ever since.

Heidi Gengenbach is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is the author of Binding Memories: Women as Tellers and Makers of History in Magude, Mozambique (Columbia University Press, 2005), and is currently working on her second book, Recipes for Disaster: Gender, Hunger, and the Remaking of an Agrarian Food World in Central Mozambique, 1500-2000. In a multi-country collaborative study funded by the National Science Foundation, she is also investigating the food security impact of a donor-funded cassava “value chain” project in southern Mozambique, which buys this starchy food staple from poor women farmers to make Impala, the world’s first cassava-based commercial beer.

This event is being cosponsored by the UMass Boston CLA Dean's Office; Economics Dept; History Dept; Political Science Dept; Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Dept; the Honors College; the Sociology Club; and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy.

How Much Land Does a Woman Need? Women, Land Rights and Rural Development

Esther Kingston-Mann
Professor Emerita of History, University of Massachusetts Boston

April 18, 2019
4:00pm - 6:00pm

Integrated Sciences Complex, 3rd Floor, Conference Room 3300, UMass Boston

RSVP

The failure to include gender in the economic history of rural development has severely limited our understanding of the colonial, privatizing and collectivist economic policies that disrupted and transformed the lives of rural women and men in the modern world. This talk will rewrite a piece of that history, exploring rural development in 20th-century Kenya through the lens of women’s labor and land claims. In the course of the 20th-century, Kikuyu women resisted efforts by husbands, fathers, brothers, tribal authorities and the state to control women-cultivated lands. Were these women seeking private land of their own, or were they advancing claims that didn't fit neatly into preconceived capitalist or pre-capitalist categories?

Esther Kingston Mann is the Ford Service Professor of History Emerita and the founder of Kingston-Mann Awards for Undergraduate Student Excellence in Diversity Inclusion Scholarship 2004-2019. Her research has focused on three related areas. She has used Comparative Studies to look at the relationship between "modernizers" and the rural women and men they attempt to "modernize" (In Search of the True West: Culture, Economics and Problems of Rural Development, 1999). Her research on Female Economic Agency is found in her book, Women, Land Rights and Rural Development: How Much Land Does a Woman Need? (2018). And she has explored Claiming Property ("The Return of Pierre Proudhon: Privatization, Crime, and the Rules of Law," 2006.)

This event is being cosponsored by the UMass Boston CLA Dean's Office; Economics Dept; History Dept; Political Science Dept; Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Dept; the Honors College; the Sociology Club; and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy.

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