Congratulations to Kaitlyn Spangler for successfully defending her thesis entitled “When he comes home, then he can decide”: Male out-migration, the feminization of agriculture, and integrated pest management in the Nepali mid-hills.
Kaitlyn’s research focused on gendered processes of male out-migration and their relation to IPM practices. See her abstract below for more information on her main findings.
I served as a member of Kaitlyn’s thesis committee, along with Dr. Maria Elisa Christie (committee chair), and Dr. Luke Juran (committee member).
As part of a USAID-funded integrated pest management (IPM) project, this thesis presents research conducted in the Midwestern mid-hills of Nepal across four communities. We used mixed methodologies to conduct semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and participant observation with local farmers and NGOs. Through a feminist political ecology (FPE) lens, the goal was to better understand how the feminization of agriculture affects and is affected by IPM practices and decision-making. This research responds to a growing interest within development in the feminization of agriculture as a potentially empowering or disempowering global process of change, conceptualized through the ways that male out-migration affects the labor and decision-making roles of women and other household members left behind on the farm. We find that contextual factors change the implications of the feminization of agriculture narrative. Co-residence with in-laws and different migration patterns affect the dynamic and varied nature of household structure and headship. Furthermore, migration patterns have pushed women to take on new agricultural duties and manage increasing household labor responsibilities. Yet, IPM vegetable cultivation is changing how farmers use and value their land through increasing crop diversification. These agricultural decision-making processes extend beyond the household, and participation in community spaces through the IPM project may contest traditional gender norms. We contend that the heterogeneity of household power dynamics muddies the potentially empowering or disempowering effects of the feminization of agriculture, and we emphasize the importance of community spaces as a locus of decision-making in the sustainability of new agricultural technologies.