Rachel Bezner Kerr, Cornell University

Associate Professor Ithaca, New York rbeznerkerr@cornell.edu Office: (607) 255-3213

Bio/Research

I have four major areas of research: 1) historical, political and social roots of the food system in northern Malawi; 2) sustainable agriculture, food security and social processes in rural Africa; 3) social relations linked to health and nutritional outcomes and 4) local knowledge and climate ch...

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Bio/Research

I have four major areas of research: 1) historical, political and social roots of the food system in northern Malawi; 2) sustainable agriculture, food security and social processes in rural Africa; 3) social relations linked to health and nutritional outcomes and 4) local knowledge and climate change adaptation. My general approach to food systems has been holistic, interdisciplinary and collaborative, drawing from both the natural and social sciences. I examine the social relations and processes that interact with environmental, political and economic processes within food systems. I often collaborate with researchers in different disciplines, including those working in agricultural and nutritional science, public health and ecology. Most of my research is also applied, community-based and participatory, involving local organizations and community members addressing ways to develop a sustainable food system. I use principles from participatory action research and integrate local knowledge and perspectives into my research. In my work I pay attention to different scales of a problem, as well as the historical roots that shape contemporary realities, drawing on political ecology theory. I also study discursive framings of food issues, using post-structural and feminist theory for this approach. Concepts drawn from agroecology, public health and international nutrition have also been important in my research. A major theme of my work is a deeper understanding of the historical, political, economic and social dimensions of agricultural practices and policies in southern Africa.My long-term collaborative research project has shown evidence-based improvement in nutrition, food security and soil management in Malawi.

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