Diana is a PhD candidate in International Development at the University of East Anglia and the University of Copenhagen. Her primary research interests include rural development, (feminist) political ecology, environmental justice, Latin American politics and feminist studies. Diana’s PhD examines a mining conflict occurring since 2002 in the Argentinian Patagonia from a feminist political ecology perspective, seeking to understand how ‘development’ is contested and transformed through the elaboration of new citizenship practices, and how this process is gendered. Diana also holds an MPhil degree in Development Studies from the University of Oxford, where she was a Weidenfeld-Hoffman Scholar.
Soybeans, Violence, and Justice: the struggle of Mayan women and men in Mexico against genetically modified seeds
Mexico’s model of industrial agriculture for rural development began to incorporate genetically modified (GM) soybean in the late 1990s. It was part of a strategy to reduce the country’s soybean imports, which were skyrocketing due to the increased use of soy by national agri-food industries. However, since 2010, Mayan indigenous communities in Hopelchen, in the southern state of Campeche, have been organising against GM soybean on grounds of its environmental and social consequences. Drawing on interview-based qualitative fieldwork, and a feminist political ecology approach, this paper examines the harms related to GM soybeans that were narrated by Mayan men and women, and the opposition they articulated in response. It finds that their experiences motivate a re-working of how we understand ‘structural violence’ and ‘environmental justice’. The paper adapts and extends the theorisation of both concepts and links them to provide a unifying framework in terms of which the struggle for environmental justice can be understood as the struggle against structural violence. In doing so, the paper aims to strengthen our theorisation of what violence may entail in socio-environmental scenarios, expand our understanding of the plural conceptualisations of justice held and demanded by environmental movements, and ultimately allow for a more thorough understanding of the power dynamics behind environmental conflicts and the way environmental justice seeks to contest power in all of its complexity.
Affiliation: University of East Anglia and University of Copenhagen