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Centre of Development Studies



Dr Joeva Sean Rock is an anthropologist and Lecturer in Development Studies. She uses ethnographic methods to study the interplay of food, politics, and development. Prior to moving to Cambridge, Dr Rock taught at the University of California-Berkeley and held postdoctoral fellowships at Dalhousie University and New York University. She has a PhD in Anthropology from American University.


To date, most of Dr Rock’s research has been in Ghana, where she has spent close to a decade researching a hotly contested, and highly complex, global effort to introduce genetically modified crops to Ghanaian farmers. Dr Rock studies “up, down, and sideways,” tracing how actors and power across scale, from multinational corporations to Ghanaian farmers, shape foodways. Her manuscript on this research – We are not starving: The Struggle for Food Sovereignty in Ghana – is under contract with Michigan State University Press.

Dr Rock is engaged in several other research projects. She is a co-PI on the mBio Project, which uses tools from data science, social science, and digital humanities to build interactive platforms for the public to explore agricultural biotechnologies. Moreover, she is interested in the political and agronomic implications of newer genome-editing tools, work she began as a postdoctoral fellow with the GEAP3 Network. Finally, she is in the early stages of an archival project that will examine discourses of agriculture, the state, and modernization in colonial Ghana.

Her work has been funded by the Fulbright-Hays Program, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Schmidt Family Foundation.



Key publications: 

Rock, Joeva (2022) “We are not starving: the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in Ghana.” Forthcoming, Michigan State University Press.

Rock, Joeva and Rachel Schurman (2020) “The Complex Choreography of Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa.” African Affairs 119(477): 499-525.

Rock, Joeva (2019) “‘We Are Not Starving’: Challenging Genetically Modified Seeds and Development Discourse in Ghana.” Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 41(1): 15-23.**

Rock, Joeva (2018) “Complex Mediascapes, Complex Realities: Critically Engaging with Biotechnology Debates in Ghana.” Global Bioethics 29(1): 55-64.

** Winner of the 2019 Boahen-Wilks Outstanding Scholarly Article in Ghana Studies Prize.

Selected Public Scholarship

2020   “GMOs for Africa?” Africa is a Country (with Rachel Schurman) [fr].
2019   “The Fight for the Future of Food.” Africa is a Country.
2018   “Catering Ghana’s Agricultural Development.” Anthropology News.
2018   “Abject Lessons.” Popula.
2018   “Pythons and Lily Pads.” Africa is a Country.
2014    “Why Are We Sending Soldiers Trained for War to Respond to the Ebola Crisis?” The Nation

Teaching and Supervisions


Dr Rock is the coordinator of Food, Technology, and Development (Paper 260). She also contributes to the Sociology and Politics of Development (Paper 3).

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Centre of Development Studies, Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

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University Teaching Officer, Centre of Development Studies
PhD (Anthropology), American University
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Dr Joeva Rock

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