Date of Thesis

5-10-2017

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

Department

International Relations

First Advisor

Emma Gaalaas Mullaney

Second Advisor

Fernando Blanco

Abstract

This thesis draws from research on maize production in Mexico's Central Highland region to discuss the political economic implications of agriculture development. Originally domesticated in this region, maize continues to be an essential food source across the Americas today. Maize is of great cultural importance, and maize cultivation has long been an activity deeply woven into the lives of small-scale campesinos or peasant farmers. Also located in this region are several major international public research centers which seek to facilitate a high degree of integration into the globalized economy. The region is persistently dominated by native varieties of maize rather than hybrid and genetically modified varieties, largely due to a conscious decision made by peasant farmers. These contradictions raise important questions about who is being included in and served by agricultural extension projects. This paper foregrounds capitalism as the primary system in which our world functions and through which inequality is produced. Using the analytical tools of Marxist political economy deepens the understanding of maize as a commodity circulating in a capitalist model of uneven development. By highlighting central actors in the region, MasAgro, CIMMYT and SAGARPA, and Mexico's presidential administration, this paper examines which farmers benefit from development proposed by these actors and, in particular, which ones are excluded. Despite determined efforts of these actors, while functioning under a capitalist system, there exists a population of indigenous and peasant farmers who are completely excluded from the story. Not only are campesinos excluded geographically, but many, particularly those maintaining agrobiodiversity and crucial food staples, are excluded from the discourse of conservation agricultural. This approach allows for an analysis of how dominant practices of criollo maize production, reveal potential for undermining capitalist tendencies.

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