Date of Award

5-21-2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

James Ellison

Language

English

Abstract

Through this thesis, I question what international and national agricultural research organizations gain from working together, and how such international development partnerships shape governance and autonomy among the local farmers who are their target populations. I examine the partnership between the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), a semi-autonomous government institution, and the Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), a private development organization with ties to the government of Mexico. Based on participation with KALRO and fieldwork in Kenya in 2016, I analyze how the partnership intertwines objective research with the political interests of Mexico and Kenya, moral intentions to “make an impact,” and neoliberal market imperatives. Focusing on a case study of the partnership between CIMMYT and KALRO and their initiative with nixtamalization—a Mesoamerican maize processing method widely used in Mexico and promoted in Kenya for nutritional benefit—I demonstrate how partnerships within the field of development manifest the “afterlives of development” and exemplify the legacy of developmentalism in achieving humanitarian goals. This partnership is essential for CIMMYT to demonstrate its professional expertise through resource allocation, dissemination of knowledge, and achieving project outcomes. For KALRO, this partnership improves access to resources and technologies. However, the interorganizational relationship obscures the workings of cultural knowledge in technical solutions, reframes citizens as subjects of knowledge, and reinforces aspects of neoliberal responsibilization. Despite this, as a fundamental element of humanitarian and development aid, partnerships offer a critical locus to examine potential unintended consequences and more generally the afterlife and effects of transnational and interorganizational collaboration.