Speaker Series - Marion Werner, University of Buffalo
Friday, February 09, 2018, 03:00pm - 04:15pm
Food regimes and the state: Exploring geographies of uneven development in the Caribbean
Abstract: This talk considers broader debates on food regimes and uneven development in relation to the Dominican Republic’s food system. The Dominican state plays a central role in the country’s food production relative to many of its neighbours in the Caribbean, a region highly exposed to international market regulation of food and agriculture. The form of this involvement was forged through land reforms of the late 1960s and early 1970s that incorporated some 30,000 households into domestic rice production and an emerging post-dictatorship “neopatrimonial” state. Today, these “reform sector” farmers and their descendants, together with their private sector counterparts, meet the country’s entire demand for this staple crop. Rice production is characterized by intensive use of imported agro-chemicals, a largely Haitian migrant workforce, state subsidies to irrigation, a government-funded warehousing and insurance scheme, and, crucially, a protected market. Dominican rice production clearly plays a role in materializing state sovereignty in the context of a regulatory patchwork formally dominated by international markets and multinational corporations. As the country begins lowering tariff barriers for rice and other sensitive food items under the provisions of a free trade agreement (i.e., DR-CAFTA), the paper offers a basis for the consideration of novel forms of national governance of food systems in the context of uneven regulatory development.
Bio: Marion Werner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University at Buffalo, SUNY and co-Director of the Center for Trade, Environment and Development at UB. Her research is located at the nexus of critical development studies, feminist theory, and political economy with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. She brings these theoretical perspectives to her work on the economic restructuring of export industries, the gender and racial politics of labor, and, more recently, agro-food systems and development policy. Her book, Global Displacements: The making of uneven development in the Caribbean (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016) reveals how uneven development is reproduced by capital and the everyday aspirations of people incorporated into and excluded from circuits of accumulation. Dr. Werner’s current research project explores changing forms of regulation in Caribbean food systems.
All talks are followed by an informal get-together at Pino's in Highland Park, unless otherwise noted.