Wednesday, January 29,
Sparks, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m
124 Sparks, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m
Cultivating Dismodernity: The Meanings of Maize
Agricultural Development in
Mexico’s Central Highlands
Emma Gaalaas Mullaney, Penn State
Agricultural development programs in Mexico have been consistently pushing for the replacement of traditional maize cultivars with “improved”, “modern” scientifically-bred
varieties for over 70 years, and yet the overwhelming majority of Mexican maize area remains planted with farmer-bred varieties to this day. The country’s Central Highland region
is home to some of the world’s foremost centers of maize research, and also to maize-cultivating peasant communities that, though oriented to commercial production, consistently
decline to cultivate commercial seed in favor of diverse varieties that they have maintained for generations. Drawing on ethnographic research and oral histories with local maize
farmers, agricultural extension agents, and research scientists, this talk will explore how conflicting and contextually-inflected interpretations of modernity and tradition have shaped
the agricultural landscape in a region where maize is a primary source of food security, livelihood, cultural identity, and biodiversity.
Emma Gaalaas Mullaney is a dual-degree PhD Candidate in Geography and Women’s Studies. Her dissertation research has been made possible by support from the National
Science Foundation, the Society of Women Geographers, the Institute of International Education Boren Fellowship Program, Specialty Groups of the Association of American Geographers, the Center for Global Studies, and several other departments and institutes at Penn State. Since 2010, Emma has also served as a Youth Delegate to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
This lecture is a part of the Center for Global Studies Brown Bag Graduate Lecture Series which focuses on interdisciplinary graduate research.