Category Archives: Presentation

(Mis-)communicating climate information in Kenya

“Is this a bad time to call?” Mobile phones, migrants (mis-)communication of climate information in Kenya

NEW!  Click here to download the full presentation from Wed. 5 April, 2017 – American Association of Geographers (AAG), Boston, MA

Huge thanks to all who joined me and my fellow panelists (Peter Dannenberg; Sheila Huggins Rao; Dorothea Kleine) at the American Association for Geographers (AAG) meeting in Boston, MA.  Feedback, questions and comments continue to be welcome. Please keep in touch!

Abstract: . Ethnographic fieldwork conducted with farmer groups in contrasting high and low market-access sites over the period 2012-2016 explores how household members shared (or withheld) information about climate and agricultural performance using phones or physical visits.

Phone calls were the dominant medium for information sharing, which for agricultural issues prioritised discussion of crop problems, dry spells, lack of inputs, and extreme weather events.  Mobile money transfers were the most common response to reported problems with many migrants concerned and frustrated by the poor agricultural performance in the rural areas. Reliance on mobile communication and a decreasing frequency of migrants’ physical involvement in the rural home leads to migrants’ perceptions that climate-related changes are extreme and potentially costly.

Narratives of climate change and its impacts in rural Kenya must therefore be interpreted with care, since many are embedded in household narratives constituted to maintain the economic and emotional involvement of migrants in their rural homes.

FOLLOW THE PROJECT ON ITS WEBSITE multilocationality.wordpress.com

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Where’s the Gap? The social construction of “yield gaps”

Wed. 24 Feb., 2016 – IDS Sussex, Brighton, UK

NEW!  Click here to download my presentation at the 2016 Contested Agronomy conference (“Where’s the Gap? The social construction of yield gaps between researchers’ and farmers’ practice”).  This is the draft version of the 15 minute script to the forthcoming paper… and even includes a special celebrity in an unexpected, starring role!

More information on the conference itself can be found here.

Equitable Alternatives and Local Solutions to Land Grabs in Africa

Tuesday 24 March 2015 (10 am to 12 noon)

U. Ottawa, Social Science Bldg (120 University Priv), Room 4007

Panel Discussion moderated by Adrian Harewood (@CBCAdrianH)

  • Faris Ahmed (Director of Policy, USC Canada)
  • Samuel Bonti-Ankomah (Carleton Univ.)
  • Annie Brunton (MA Student, SIDGS, uOttawa)
  • Roy Culpeper (Chair, CELADA)
  • Joshua Ramisch (uOttawa)
  • Blair Rutherford (Carleton Univ.)

Organized by :

  • CELADA (Coalition for Equitable Land Acquisitions in Africa ) – celada.ca
  • SIDGS (School of International Development & Global Studies, uOttawa) – website here.

Joshua speaks during the panel
Speaking during the panel on “Alternatives to Landgrabs” (24 Mar. 2015) [Photo credit: Eshete]
I will post links to the panel materials after the event.  In the meantime, if you are concerned with the rise of inequitable acquisitions of land in Africa and how they are displacing farmers and pastoralists, visit the CELADA resource page for possible actions.

One strategy is by emailing your MP. Persuade them to support CELADA’s aims by explaining why you believe Canada should take a leading role in challenging inequitable land acquisitions in Africa.

How to (mis)understand youth, migration & agrarian change

Much of the literature on a “cellphone revolution” in Africa frames the technology as the driver of change, for such things as financial inclusion for the poor, better agricultural or climate information to farmers, the power for social movements to hold governments accountable.  In this brown bag talk I am interested in exploring how cellphones are part of a broader set of social changes – responding to and helping to shape those changes – but not necessarily driving them.

Click here to download the slides (“This cellphone is my lifeline”: How to (mis)understand youth, migration, and agrarian change in Kenya).

This talk draws on ongoing research as well as material previously published and presented, e.g.:

Kenya’s Telephone farmers (6 May, 2014) uOttawa Alumni Week

My presentation: Kenya’s “Telephone farmers”: Cellphones, migration, and ecological knowledge (pdf version available here).

The Faculty of Social Sciences organized this panel to highlight the role of social sciences in understanding food (in)security and food issues more generally.  (Thanks to the Vice-dean of Research and Alumni Affairs for making this part of the 2014 Alumni Week!)

CO-PANELISTS: Marie-Josee Massicotte (Political Studies), Jose Lopez (Sociology), and Elizabeth (Betsy) Kristjansson (Psychology).

Photos from the event available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/uottawaalumni/sets/72157644621289493/.

2014-05 Sl Sci of Fd - send pesa
Sending money might be easy by phone in Kenya, but it complicates social and economic relationships.

Envisioning Just and Sustainable Agro-Food Systems: Actors, Principles and Approaches

The first colloquium of the Laboratory for the Interdisciplinary Study of Food (LISF) was held on 4 April 2014 (full programme here).  Local activists and researchers presented cutting edge work (in English and French) on:

  • Global and local food issues
  • How make universities’ food systems more just
  • Land grabbing and food security in Africa
  • Book launch of “Globalization and Food Sovereignty”

Lost in transition: Cellphones, multilocational livelihoods, and agrarian change in western Kenya

How are cellphones reshaping the lives of rural Kenyans and the family members who “leave” home?  Click here to read the PDF version of my talk Lost in transition: Cellphones, multilocational livelihoods, and agrarian change in western Kenya”.  

Huge thanks to all who joined me and my fellow panelists (Lincoln Addison; Regina Hansda; Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt; Chris Huggins) at the American Association for Geographers (AAG) meeting in Tampa, Florida.  Feedback, questions and comments continue to be welcome. Please keep in touch!

Abstract: Western Kenya has been a labour-exporting region for over a century, with many households opting to “straddle” both rural and urban contexts by deploying multilocational livelihoods that have reproduced themselves over generations.  Ethnographic and historical investigations show that while this densely settled landscape (with the highest population densities in Kenya) was self-sufficient in food production up until the 1940s, for the last 70 years households and communities have relied heavily on off-farm income and reciprocity to maintain food security, thereby staving off major food crises despite environmental and socio-economic pressures.  Indeed, contrary to the dominant, capitalist models of rural-urban migration and agrarian change, these household coping strategies have actually supported a continued growth in the rural population even while agricultural output has remained stagnant and land per capita dwindled.  This paper draws on thirteen years of interviews and survey data from several western Kenyan communities to interrogate the role of new technologies (especially cellphones) in accelerating the ways in which migrants are (re )enrolled in rural struggles for land, labour, and food security.  Multilocational livelihood strategies are significantly reshaping gender relations and household decision-making but appear to dilute and spread the scarce resources of all but the most advantaged households.