Parker, Lowery Duvernet
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This dissertation examines the politics of philanthropy in Kenya, exploring the creation of class identities within agricultural biotechnology partnerships. Proponents of these partnerships, such as the Gates Foundation, argue that genetically modified crops are a solution to hunger and poverty for smallholder farmers in Africa, but in Kenya, my research shows that the story is more complicated. The main beneficiaries of investment in crop biotechnology are urban, middle class Kenyans working for private partnering institutions as well as the international agribusiness corporations who develop GM crops. This dissertation illustrates the tangled and overlapping tensions within humanitarian narratives in the colonial present, arguing that the struggle for economic justice through ‘innovative agriculture’ implies both resistance to and integration with state/corporate strategies. While contesting imperialism might include developing local capacity for new technologies, it can also demand that local farmers be used as test subjects for corporate-run biotech projects. This research suggests that the primary outcome of these projects is the continued separation of rural and urban citizens into groups with differing citizenship benefits.