Mark Chatarpal is a Guyanese researcher. In 2014, he earned a BA (Hons) in Caribbean Studies from the University of Toronto. The following year he received a scholarship and direct entry into the Ph.D. program at Indiana University’s Department of Anthropology where he received an M.A. in Anthropology. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate specializing in Food Studies and Economic Anthropology. In addition to his research Mark has provided over two years of pro bono consultations to Guyana’s government regarding amending the 2006 Amerindian Act in Guyana’s constitution in order to provide an indigenous based interpretation of the term ‘agriculture’.
What do you mean by ‘food security’? Agrarian policymaking within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Food security among indigenous communities in the Americas has been an issue addressed by governments, multilateral organizations, and other stakeholders for over four decades. Within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Guyana is commonly referred to as the regions “breadbasket,” but its food policies have not always engaged well with the concerns of Toshaos, a title given to indigenous leaders, or provided a stable level of food exports for the country. This project uses the case of cassava production in Guyana and CARICOM to understand how different groups conceptualize ‘food security,’ and how governmental food policies affect indigenous livelihoods. How do these conceptualizations highlight longstanding tensions between first peoples and settler communities and what policy mechanisms are there to include the voices of Toshaos? Finally, how does the concept of Creole Agrarianism, an interpretation of Shona N. Jackson’s concept of ‘Creole Indigeneity’ (Jackson, 2012) provides a useful ideological platform to discuss this issue within other CARICOM member-states? I examine how these varying definitions of food security drive agricultural policy by engaging with the full spectrum of organizations at the international, national and local levels. With over thirteen months of fieldwork involving interviews and conversations with development experts, government ministers, parliamentarians, policymakers, indigenous rights activists, local offices of international organizations and NGOs, and Toshaos the researcher will discuss how varying interpretations of food security directly influences national policymaking.
Affiliation: Indiana University