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Provost's Imagine Fund for Arts and Humanities

Seed Sovereignty in Zimbabwe

My recent manuscripts and current book project constitute an analysis of seeds as property: What are the diverging political and cultural meanings of seeds as a shared commons for indigenous and peasant farmers and seed sovereignty activists, on the one hand, and a privatized object of intellectual property rights, on the other hand? In this part of the project, I will make use of contacts that I developed in October during my participation as an authorized observer at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Sixth Governing Session of the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Rome, Italy. While in Rome, I met with Andrew Mushita, Executive Director of the Community Technology Development Trust in Zimbabwe. He is internationally recognized as a leading writer on seed sovereignty issues and his activism has been credited, at least in part, with the fact that Zimbabwe has been unusually attentive to farmers’ rights and benefit-sharing in terms of national law on seeds. In addition, my trip to Zimbabwe will include a meeting with Elizabeth Mpofu, general coordinator of La Via Campesina’s International Coordinating Committee and chair of the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum. La Via Campesina is an umbrella peasant organization that has led international events on farmers’ rights and seed issues and I interviewed representatives of the organization in Rome. Through these interviews and site visits in Zimbabwe, this research trip will provide valuable material for my book chapters on the international seed sovereignty movement and farmers’ rights relating to seeds.

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Political Science