I am a graduate student in cultural anthropology at the University of Oregon. My research is broadly concerned with the intersection of political ecology, discourse, and gender in the Eastern Caribbean. Specifically, I am interested in the interplay between ideas and practices of sustainable development and existing, localized systems of food production and exchange as well as how such interactions influence and are influenced by gender, family relations, and other networks of obligation.
My work focuses on alternative socioeconomic structures and women’s networks of food production in the Commonwealth of Dominica, a rural island nation in the Eastern Caribbean in which most households remain dependent upon agriculture, both for subsistence and exchange. Despite the fact that women have major roles in growing and marketing much of the food consumed locally, it is commonplace for their contributions to go unacknowledged in contemporary discourse and policy interventions related to the agricultural economy.
My past research identified and analyzed this dynamic, demonstrating how Dominica’s history of global economic integration fostered the growth of gendered modes of production that correspond to competing systems of value and social organization. This includes localized forms of production and trade (associated with women) that exist today in conversation with global capitalist forms (which are associated with men). Despite its marginalization, it is the local system that today ensures high levels of food security and health throughout the country, in addition to providing economic stability and autonomy for many households and communities with few other opportunities.
I am currently in the process of formulating the major research questions for my dissertation prospectus. Broadly, I am interested in exploring the alternative conceptions of value and productive labor within Dominica’s localized system of production, particularly as represented through the lives of women and families engaged in the agricultural economy. I am also interested in the ways in which structures of power (from global to local) are confronted, resisted, and mediated by local, place-based knowledge and practice in ways that create and reproduce strong, resilient, and autonomous local economies.