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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Joeva uses ethnographic methods to study the interplay of food, politics, and development.

An anthropologist, Joeva's research examines changing agricultural and development landscapes in Africa, and the actors and processes shaping them. Her first project examined the development of, and contestations over, genetically modified (GM) crops in Ghana, with a focus on plant breeding, regulatory and patent law, and anti-GM activism. Her book on this project, We are not starving: the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in Ghana (Michigan State University Press, 2022), an ethnographic exploration of how efforts to introduce GM crops are transforming Ghanaian foodways, political institutions, and environmental governance.

Joeva's second project examines GM crops on the African continent more broadly. This includes mapping the development and outcomes of GM crops as the co-director of the Mapping Biotechnologies in Africa Project, and examining the governance and regulation of GM crops using ethnographic inquiry.

She is also engaged in a historical project assessing the work of the Sasakawa Global 2000 (SG2000) program and its efforts to spark a "Green Revolution" in Africa.

Joeva's research has been funded by the British Academy, Fulbright-Hays Program, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Prior to coming to Cambridge, Joeva was a lecturer at the University of California, and held postdoctoral fellowships at Dalhousie University and New York University. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from American University.




Key publications: 


“We are not starving: the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in Ghana.” Michigan State University Press, 2022.


2023  Rock, J., Schnurr, M.A., Kingiri, A., Ely, A., Glover, D., Stone, G., and Fischer, K. (2023) “The  Knowledge Politics of Genome Editing in Africa.” Elementa 11(1): 1-14.  

2023   Dowd-Uribe, B, Rock, J, Spreadbury, T., Chiril, P, and Uminsky, D (2023) “Bridging the Gap?: Public-Private Partnerships and Genetically Modified Crop Development for Smallholder  Farmers in Africa.” Plants, People, Planet: 1-15.

2023    “No one is talking about food: Making Agriculture a 'Business' in Ghana." Agriculture and Human Values.

2023    “Beyond the Genome: Lessons Learned from Genetically Modified Crops in Africa and the Implications for Genome Editing.” Development and Change 54(1): 117-142. (with M.A. Schnurr, A. Kingiri, D. Glover, G. Stone, A. Ely, and K. Fischer)

2022    “Examining the Potential for Genetic Modification and Genome Editing as Climate Change Adaption Strategies for Smallholder Farmers.” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. (with M.A. Schnurr, A. Kingiri, and S. Lieberman)

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.

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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