What Accounts for the Mutual Avoidance between Agricultural Policy & Agrobiodiversity Governance? Colonized Geography
About the talk
Agricultural policy encompasses a vast, multi-scalar array of laws, regimes, regulations, politics, supports, and governing paradigms related to food, land use, land tenure, water, trade, infrastructure, research, and more. Seeds appear, but largely in relation to phytosanitary and intellectual property rules. (Labor is also missing.) Dominant agricultural policies, epitomized in the United States Farm Bill, avoid addressing much less supporting agricultural biodiversity as such. On the other hand, international governance of ‘plant genetic resources for food and agriculture’ (PGRFA) celebrates the variety and variability of agrobiodiversity and works toward its ex situ ‘conservation and sustainable use’ particularly as climate change and crises mount. But, in their prioritization of digital sequencing and big data, the International Treaty for PGRFA avoids addressing much less supporting the agricultural contexts for this valuable germplasm. This mutual avoidance ironically undermines the goals of both agricultural policy and agrobiodiversity governance: the farmers, fishers, pastoralists, agroforesters, foragers, gardeners, food producers, seed keepers who do the work of upkeeping and adapting agricultural biodiversity remain marginalized at best, and dispossessed at worst. What accounts for this mutual avoidance? In general: Coloniality, with its racialized, gendered, and classed appropriations of social reproduction, its subsequent consumptive biases, and epistemological hierarchies—all in relation to who ‘feeds the world.’ Agricultural coloniality unfolds spatially, in a colonized geography of what constitutes productivity, intellectual property ‘rights,’ modernity, as well as agrarian viability and parity. Drawing on two community-based action-research collaborations with agrarian justice movements, this paper navigates these colonized geographies and paths to decoloniality.
About the speaker
Born and raised in farming community in Kentucky (Tsalagi/Shawnee traditional territories), Garrett Graddy-Lovelace researches and teaches agricultural and environmental policy and agrarian politics at American University’s School of International Service in DC (Piscataway traditional territories), where she is Faculty Affiliate at the Antiracist Research & Policy Center. She co-founded and co-leads Ethnographies of Empire Research Cluster and the Agroecology Research-Action Collective, has a forthcoming book (The Power of Seeds & Politics of Agricultural Biodiversity – MIT), and works in open education/free knowledge movements. She has a PhD in Geography from University of Kentucky, a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and a BA from Yale.