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Title: Living Technology and Development: Agricultural Biotechnology and Civil Society in Kenya
Authors: Harsh, Matthew
Supervisor(s): Smith, James
Williams, Robin
Issue Date: 2008
Abstract: This thesis examines relationships between science and technology and development, as de ned and manifested by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Kenya whose work involves agricultural biotechnologies. Non-governmental engagements with agricultural biotechnology in Kenya span technology production, promotion and resistance. The argument of this thesis is that through these engagements, and the ways that relationships between technology and development are manifested in these engagements, technological and political orders are merging in civil society. When technologies enter the spaces of civil society, spaces carved out by development practices, the agency of NGOs is contingent and contested. But at some scales, in some places, NGOs are performing functions usually reserved for states, markets and communities. Through push and pull between NGOs, biotechnologies are becoming ordered in Kenya: technologies are approved for research, capacity for research and biosafety is built, scienti c knowledge is generated and transferred, plant material is distributed to farmers. At the same time, social and political orders are formed in civil society that are intertwined with this technological ordering: organisations set up competing structures of representation for farmers; they build social networks for technology delivery and technology resistance; they set and protest the terms of collective decision-making by acting as de facto regulators. Patterns of legitimacy and authority are set and the ability to steer biotechnologies is at issue. Attempts to more democratically guide technologies, when seen as a case of public action more generally, have implications for the ability of Kenyans, as farmers and citizens, to shape the decisions that a ect their lives. By examining biotechnology through civil society, the thesis makes three contributions to knowledge. It proposes that the current development practices supporting NGOs engagements with technologies are creating an increased prominence, or rise, of technological NGOs in development. It provides empirical evidence of this rise in the form of an ethnographic exploration of NGOs in Kenya. Finally, it provides a way to examine the agency of NGOs by building on the new ethnography of NGOs and the co-production of knowledge and social order.
Keywords: Agricultural biotechnology
Appears in Collections:Science Technology and Innovation Studies thesis and dissertation collection

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