Grettel Navas

Biography

Grettel Navas is a PhD student at the Environmental Science and Technology Institute of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), where she works for the ENVJustice project (ERC advanced grant). She holds an MSc in Socio-Environmental Studies from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO Ecuador) and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the National University of Costa Rica. My current research interests are Political Ecology, Critical Agrarian Studies, Environmental Conflicts, and Health Environmental Justice. Before starting her PhD, she worked with different environmental NGOs and several social projects in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil, and Guatemala.

Abstract

Invisible within the invisible: Gendered aftermaths of DBCP in banana plantations in Nicaragua

This paper discusses how scientific evidence in a pesticide-contaminated rural area can shape social responses reinforcing gender inequalities. Grounded in a case study in Chinandega, (Northwestern Pacific Coast of Nicaragua), I explain how both male and female farmworkers were exposed to the pesticide Di-bromochloro-propane (DBCP), an organochloride pesticide used during the seventies and eighties to eradicate little worms that attacked the roots of the banana plant. In Chinandega, male infertility turned out to be the primary ailment considered in the struggle and women’s illnesses were rendered invisible. I undo the local organization to analyze the gendered power relations among men and women and I analyze how this relation among companion workers is conditioned by the gendered role of medical evidence in this specific contaminated area. Theoretically, this paper intersects studies on agrarian studies, feminist political ecology, and environmental health justice. Methodologically, primary and secondary sources were revised, two months fieldwork during 2018, and in-depth interviews were carried out. Overall, this paper calls on the need to study local communities’ power relations rather than essentializing them as homogenous actors and to look at intersectional inequalities in the reproduction of environmental injustices in environmental health-related struggles. The reduced categorization of “victim” and pesticide contamination across time, space, generation, and gender are discussed.

Affiliation: Autonomous University of Barcelona