Professor of Politics Nancy Neiman received the Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellowship, funding provided through the Department of State’s United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) to support her continued research into food sovereignty movements. Neiman received a research-only flex grant that will fund up to three research trips to India of at least a month each over the next two years. She plans to travel to Gujarat, where she will conduct and present research at Ahmedabad University.
“Funding and support from Fulbright Nehru will make it possible to expand our surveying and mapping project beyond the pilot stage and to collect vital data as well as documenting ways of knowing held by pastoralist women elders about practices that are in danger of disappearing,” says Neiman. “At the heart of the food sovereignty movement is the idea that peasant communities ought to be able to make decisions about what they produce, the conditions under which they produce, and for whom they produce. Those who study and advocate for food sovereignty see it as the key to solving the global hunger problem, noting that we produce enough food to feed everyone, the problem is distribution.”
Neiman’s project will track key coping strategies practiced by Gujarati pastoralist communities during the COVID-19 pandemic to determine how pastoralist identities in Gujarat support—and are supported by—a broader transformational food sovereignty movement. Using both qualitative and quantitative data, Neiman will examine the pastoralists’ struggle over access to grazing land and the ability to maintain traditional livelihoods, access to healthcare, the navigation of women’s traditional roles and their positions as leaders, and the promotion of agrarian citizenship.
“The vast majority of peasants today are forced to produce or work for food corporations that produce monoculture crops for export, often leaving peasants landless and hungry,” Neiman explains. “My contention is that the heart of the problem is the privatization and concentration of the means of food production, namely land. The plight of pastoralists in Gujarat sheds concentrated light on the critical issue of land access and the enclosure of the commons for food producing communities across the globe.”