Accepted paper:

"Men are interested only in root crops": climate-change gendered policies in the Kingdom of Tonga

Author:

Gaia Cottino (Università di Napoli l'Orientale)

Paper short abstract:

In the Kingdom of Tonga, rather than climate change itself, the climate-change-related policies seem to have a strong impact on the nexus of gender and nature.

Paper long abstract:

Recently the lands of Oceania have entered within a global discourse of climate change. While local populations have always faced ecological vulnerability elaborating resilience techniques over the millennia, setting roles and defining work activities, the current political discourse on climate change -conveniently global- seems to offer universal solutions, altering such gender equilibrium. In the Kingdom of Tonga, while the first Constitution eliminated the official land keepers and care givers (tahui fonua) who guarded the land's diversity and productivity, the Green revolution has uniformed the environment removing the previous agro-forestry system and replacing it with extensive monocultures for commercial purposes, leaving the land poor and dry. In recent years, the climate change alarm has promoted a large number of projects aimed at restoring the land and addressing food security, often through female participation, despite the gender roles and labor division within the local community. Rather than climate change itself, the climate-change-related policies seem to have a strong impact on the nexus of gender and nature. After a brief historical overview, I will discuss ethnographic data regarding a recent "urban horticulture" project aimed at both guaranteeing local food security and empowering women. By illustrating the roles played by Tongan men and women in practicing agriculture and gardening, and by describing the land distribution, I will question the global and local engendered agenda, which takes for granted a nexus between the female and the natural world.

panel P126
Gender and environmental change. Taking stock and looking into the future