Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 3–11 | Cite as

Maize, food insecurity, and the field of performance in southern Zambia

  • Nicholas SitkoEmail author


This paper explores the interrelationship between maize farming, the discourse of modernity, and the performance of a modern farmer in southern Zambia. The post-colonial Zambian government discursively constructed maize as a vehicle for expanding economic modernization into rural Zambia and undoing the colonial government’s urban modernization bias. The pressures of neo-liberal reform have changed this discursive construction in ways that constitute maize as an obstacle to sustained food security in southern Zambia. Despite this discursive change, maize continues to occupy a central position in the farming systems of the region. I argue that the continued prevalence of maize in southern Zambia can be understood as a performance that allows farmers to maintain their identities as modern rural subjects. The paper concludes with the policy implications of the field of performance on two contemporary debates in Zambian food security: the use of GMO crops and the promotion of cassava as a drought tolerant alternative to maize.


Food security Maize Neoliberalism Zambia 



maize control boards


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geography DepartmentUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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