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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Joeva’s research focuses on agricultural biotechnologies, international development, and social movements on the African continent.

She is currently completing a book project on genetically modified crops and food sovereignty in Ghana, and is engaged in a couple of additional research projects. The first, in collaboration with the GEAP3 Network, explores the potential political and agronomic implications of genome-editing for agricultural systems in Africa.

The second, in collaboration with the University of San Francisco’s Department of International Studies and Data Institute, uses tools from data science, social science, and digital humanities to build interactive platforms for the public to explore agricultural biotechnologies on the African continent.

To date, her research has been funded by the Fulbright-Hays Program and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and featured in African Affairs; Culture, Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentGlobal BioethicsThe NationPopula; and Foreign Policy in Focus. She also serves as a contributor to Africa is a Country, where she writes on issues related to development, agriculture, and social change. Prior to her current position, Joeva was an anthropologist and lecturer at the University of California. She has also taught within the Health Inequity and Care Program at American University and served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from American University.

Joeva is currently working on a book project entitled: We are not starving: the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in Ghana (forthcoming September 2022)For the past decade, a transnational network of development donors, financial institutions and private companies have sought to spark a “new” Green Revolution in Africa. Citing a changing climate and growing population, these actors argue that the private sector is best equipped to develop “climate-smart” solutions, and thus lobby African governments to reform policy and liberalise markets.

Her research explores how these efforts are transforming African foodways, political institutions, and environmental governance. To do so, she looks particularly at how a transnational group of donors, companies and governments seek to introduce genetically modified seeds (GMOs) to Ghana. By approaching food as a (contested) cultural object rather than a simple item for production and consumption, the manuscript provides broad insight into the social realities of development and climate change, the postcolonial African state, and US foreign aid.




Key publications: 



2020    “The Complex Choreography of Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa.” African Affairs119(477): 499-525. (with Rachel Schurman)
2019   “We are not starving:  Challenging Genetically Modified Seeds and Development in Ghana.” Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 41(1): 15-23. (Winner of the 2019 Boahen-Wilks Outstanding Scholarly Article in Ghana Studies Prize)
2018   “Complex Mediascapes, Complex Realities: Critically Engaging with Biotechnology Debates in Ghana.” Global Bioethics 29(1): 55-64.

Manuscripts in Preparation:
“We are not starving: the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in Ghana.” Book Manuscript.


Selected Public Scholarship: 

2020   “GMOs for Africa?” Africa is a Country (with Rachel Schurman) [fr].
2019   “The Fight for the Future of Food.” Africa is a Country.
2019   “This is What Donald Trump’s Development Policy Looks Like.” Africa is a Country (with Jacob M. Grumbach).
2018   “Don’t Turn Foreign Aid Over to the Heritage Foundation.” Foreign Policy in Focus (with Jacob M. Grumbach).
2018   “Only the Soil Can Free Us.” Africa is a Country.
2018   “Catering Ghana’s Agricultural Development.” Anthropology News.
2018   “Silent Aid.” Africa is a Country.
2018   “Abject Lessons.” Popula.
2018   “The Economic Fighters League is Re-Igniting Ghana’s Anti-Colonial Legacy.” Africa is a Country.
2018   “Pythons and Lily Pads.” Africa is a Country.
2014    “A Field Day for Joeva Rock.” American University College of Arts and Sciences.
2014    “Why Are We Sending Soldiers Trained for War to Respond to the Ebola Crisis?” The Nation.
2014    “Militarized Humanitarianism in Africa.” Foreign Policy in Focus.

Assistant Professor of Development Studies
Fixed-Term Lecturer
Fellow, Murray Edwards College

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