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Growing cotton: Household negotiations in export-oriented agriculture in Africa, Burkina Faso

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Title: Growing cotton: Household negotiations in export-oriented agriculture in Africa, Burkina Faso
Author(s): Somé, Batamaka
Director of Research: Saul, Mahir
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Saul, Mahir
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Bunzl, Matti; Bassett, Thomas J.; Torrès, Arlene
Department / Program: Anthropology
Discipline: Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): gender household commercial farming women agriculture labor West Africa Burkina Faso cotton food crops cash crops development globalization intrahousehold farmers rural gender negotiations bargaining head of household land social capital researcher's identity native anthropology development anthropology export agriculture African agriculture.
Abstract: Conventional knowledge assumes that production of cash/export crops jeopardizes household food crop production in developing economies, and above all, mars women’s potential for economic autonomy. In Southwest Burkina Faso, observations in cotton-producing households appear to challenge such assumptions. Cotton is the driver of food crop production; and members of cotton farming households operate within a framework of negotiations and bargaining to attain production objectives. Still more, some developments in the cotton sector opened unexpected avenues for some women, in Southwest Burkina, to produce cotton independently from the conventional cotton farms owned by the male head of household. This dissertation asks why some smallholder farmers in Southwest Burkina choose to grow cotton in addition to commonly grown food-crops, and how this impacts relations between spouses, and parents and children within the household. It reaches the conclusion that a host of complex factors influence smallholder farmers’ decision to produce cotton, which requires looking beyond the need for greater cash incomes. The research methodology combines participant observations, informal interviews, conversations, focus groups, life histories, and social interactions, with formal surveying methods. This study contributes to ongoing theoretical debates on intrahousehold relations, and women’s access to resources in a growing cash crop economy in Africa, and the Global South. It also revisits the discussions phrased in terms of agency and rationality in actions among farming households. More broadly, it can contribute to reconcile cash and food cropping, and suggest tools for the economic empowerment of rural women through their full integration in cash farming.
Issue Date: 2010-08-31
Rights Information: Copyright Batamaka Somé
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-08-31
Date Deposited: 2010-08

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