Call for Papers: Political Ecology and the New Green Revolution in Africa (AAG 2020)

Political Ecology and the New Green Revolution in Africa
Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers
Denver, Colorado April 6-10, 2020
Deadline for abstracts: October 18, 2019


Jessie Luna, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University
Joeva Rock, International Studies Department, University of San Francisco
Brian Dowd-Uribe, International Studies Department, University of San Francisco


Panel Abstract
For over a decade, international development agencies, private foundations, and global financiers have sought to spark a “New” Green Revolution in Africa (NGRA) (Thompson 2007). Premised on the notion that the first Green Revolution missed Africa, this supposed new iteration seeks to link African farmers to global value chains through the purchase of agrochemicals, ‘improved’ seeds and inputs from global firms, with the goal of transitioning small farms towards more commercial forms of production.

Scholars have questioned whether the NGRA is indeed new, or simply a continuation of the first Green Revolution, a “long duree” (Patel 2013) of expanding market frontiers. They have raised questions about whether this technology-driven approach will reproduce the same shortcomings of the Green Revolution, focusing narrowly on productivity while exacerbating environmental degradation, inequality, and poor households’ food insecurity (Moseley et al. 2015; Scoones and Thompson 2011; Nyantakyi-Frimpong and Bezner Kerr 2015). Specifically, several key interventions have:
  • Complicated the role of private, philanthropic, and regulatory organizations in the promotion of the NGRA (Schnurr and Gore 2015; Schurman 2017, 2018; Ignatova 2017)
  • Examined how NGRA-inspired interventions map onto the institutional and agro-ecological dimensions of production, reproducing social inequalities (Gray and Dowd-Uribe 2013; Schnurr 2012; Dowd-Uribe 2014)
  • Analyzed how the NGRA intersects with local NGO and activist concerns and struggles for greater participation, autonomy and sovereignty (Harsh 2014, Rock 2018)
  • Complicated the binary debate between productivist and counter-narratives to the NGRA (Amanor 2011; Luna 2018; Shilomboleni 2018)
  • Explored how people are affected by and respond differently to NGRA-related changes based on intersectional identities and social locations (Kansanga 2017; Luna 2019; Nyantakyi-Frimpong and Bezner Kerr 2015).
After a decade of critical scholarship, this panel seeks to foreground the contributions of political ecology scholarship to understand and complicate dominant narratives of the NGRA, and engage emerging frontiers in this next decade of proposed NGRA program implementation. We invite panelists to connect issues at different scales and explore alternative conceptual frameworks (such as feminist political ecology, postcolonial frameworks, STS) as a way to address topics such as:
  • The political economy of knowledge production and its relationship to the generation of narratives about the NGRA
  • How NGRA policies and programs drive reconfigurations of power and shape new relations and contestations between and within local and global scales.
  • How various actors — farmers, politicians, bureaucrats, plant breeders, and activists — respond, resist, and accept NGRA technologies and programs
  • How food sovereignty and other activists imagine their work within and outside the context of the NGRA
  • Explorations of the multi-spatial gendered and intersectional impacts and implications of NGRA projects and processes
  • Critical analyses of new, emerging, and planned NGRA-related interventions
If interested, please email an abstract of no more than 250 words to Jessie Luna,, Joeva Rock,, and Brian Dowd-Uribe,, by October 18th. Participants will be notified by October 24th and must submit their abstract by the AAG deadline of October 30th.



Amanor, Kojo. 2011. “From farmer participation to pro-poor seed markets.” IDS Bulletin 42(4): 48-58.

Dowd-Uribe, Brian. 2014. “Engineering yields and inequality? How institutions and agro-ecology shape Bt cotton outcomes in Burkina Faso.” Geoforum 53: 161–71.

Gray, Leslie C., and Brian Dowd-Uribe. 2013. “A political ecology of socio-economic differentiation: debt, inputs and liberalization reforms in southwestern Burkina Faso.” Journal of Peasant Studies 40 (4): 683–702.

Harsh, Matthew. 2014. “Nongovernmental organizations and genetically modified crops in Kenya: understanding influence within a techno-civil society.” Geoforum, 53, 172-183

Ignatova, Jacqueline A. 2017. “The ‘philanthropic’ gene: biocapital and the new green revolution in Africa”. Third World Quarterly, 38(10), 2258-2275.

Kansanga, Moses Mosonsieyiri. 2017. “Who you know and when you plough? Social capital and agricultural mechanization under the new green revolution in Ghana.” International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 15(6), 708–723.

Luna, Jessie K. 2018. “Getting out of the dirt: racialized modernity and environmental inequality in the cotton sector of Burkina Faso.” Environmental Sociology 4: 221–234.

Luna, Jessie K. 2019. “The chain of exploitation: intersectional inequalities, capital accumulation, and resistance in Burkina Faso’s cotton sector.” Journal of Peasant Studies. 46(7): 1413-1434.

Moseley, William, Matthew Schnurr and Rachel Bezner Kerr. 2015. “Interrogating the technocratic (neoliberal) agenda for agricultural development and hunger alleviation in Africa.” African Geographical Review 34(1): 1-7.

Nyantakyi-Frimpong, Hanson, and Rachel Bezner Kerr. 2015. “A political ecology of high-input agriculture in northern Ghana.” African Geographical Review 34: 13–35.

Patel, Raj. 2013. “The Long Green Revolution.” Journal of Peasant Studies 40(1): 1-63.

Rock, Joeva. 2018. “‘We are not starving’: challenging genetically modified seeds and development discourse in Ghana.” Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 41(1): 15-23.

Scoones, Ian, and John Thompson. 2011. “The politics of seed in Africa’s Green Revolution: alternative narratives and competing pathways.” IDS Bulletin 42: 1–23

Schnurr, Matthew A. 2012. “Inventing Makhathini: creating a prototype for the dissemination of genetically modified crops into Africa.” Geoforum 43(4): 784–92.

Schnurr, Matthew A., and Christopher Gore. 2015. “Getting to the ‘yes’: governing genetically modified crops in Uganda.” Journal of International Development 27: 55-72.

Schurman, Rachel. 2017. “Building an alliance for biotechnology in Africa.” Journal of Agrarian Change: 1-18.

Schurman, Rachel. 2018. “Micro(soft) managing a ‘Green Revolution’ for Africa: the new donor culture and international agricultural development.” World Development 112: 180-192.

Shilomboleni, Helena. 2018. “African Green Revolution, food sovereignty and constrained livelihood choice in Mozambique.” Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue canadienne des études africaines. 52(2):115-137.

Thompson, C. B. (2007). “Africa: Green Revolution or rainbow evolution?” Review of African Political Economy, 34(113), 562-565.

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