Green science, technology and innovation from the south. An interdisciplinary, ethnographic study of organic pesticide production (pyrethrum) in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania

Begin - Einde 
2023 - 2027 (lopend)
Vakgroep Talen en Culturen



This project focuses on an interdisciplinary, ethnographic study of organic pesticide production (pyrethrum) in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. Pyrethrum is a pesticide component derived from the chrysanthemum plant species. The yellow heart of the so-called ‘killer daisy’ contains a natural toxin called pyrethrin that is used to produce organic pesticides and insecticides. The premise of this project is that an ethnographic exploration of the pyrethrum revival programs in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania can provide uncharted knowledge about adequate responses from the Global South to the global environmental crisis. This knowledge is crucial to develop a better understanding of African technical and social ingenuity in the wake of the Anthropocene, an era defined as dominated by humanity’s destructive impact on the environment. The research question guiding this project is: what kind of ideologies, expertise and technologies emerge in the Global South as responses to global environmental challenges? This translates into 3 sub-questions: (RQ1) Which political, cultural and environmental ideologies influence local, provincialized notions of ‘the organic’ and the ‘green growth’ the pyrethrum revival program aspires? (RQ2) What kinds of technological innovations emerge because of the pyrethrum revival program and how do these innovation initiatives build upon infrastructural legacies from the (colonial) past? (RQ3) Which kinds of expertise does the pyrethrum revival program generate and how does this expertise compete with other forms of power, knowledge and authority in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and globally? The project is a unique collaboration between KU Leuven, UGent and Egerton University (Kenya).




Postdoctorale medewerker(s)

Externe medewerkers

Milcah Mulu-Mutuku

Egerton University Kenya

Katrien Pype

KU Leuven