Renegotiating Gender Roles and Cultivation Practices in the Nepali Mid-Hills: Unpacking the Feminization of Agriculture

Citation:

Spangler, Kaitlyn, and Maria Elisa Christie. 2019. "Renegotiating Gender Roles and Cultivation Practices in the Nepali Mid-Hills: Unpacking the Feminization of Agriculture." Agriculture and Human Values 37: 415-32.

Authors: Kaitlyn Spangler, Maria Elisa Christie

Abstract:

The feminization of agriculture narrative has been reproduced in development literature as an oversimplified metric of empowerment through changes in women’s labor and managerial roles with little attention to individuals’ heterogeneous livelihoods. Grounded in feminist political ecology (FPE), we sought to critically understand how labor and managerial feminization interact with changing agricultural practices. Working with a local NGO as part of an international, donor-funded research-for-development project, we conducted semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and participant observation with over 100 farmers in Mid-Western Nepal in 2017. Household structure and headship are dynamic in the context of male out-migration, pushing women to take on new agricultural duties and increasing household labor responsibilities. In this context, decision-making processes related to agricultural management and new cultivation practices illustrate ongoing renegotiations of gender and cultivation practices within and beyond the household. We contend that the heterogeneity of household power dynamics muddies the empowering impacts of migration and emphasize the importance of community spaces as a locus of subjectivity formation and social value. We conclude that FPE can illuminate complexities of power, space, and individual responses to socio-ecological conditions that challenge the current feminization of agriculture framework.

Topics: Agriculture, Displacement & Migration, Feminisms, Feminist Political Ecology, Gender, Femininity/ies, Households Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 2019

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