Jessie Fredlund

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Connecticut, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10558

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Fredlund, Jessie (Connecticut, U. of) "Climate Change and the Ancestors: Rain, Gender, and Politics in a Tanzanian Watershed"

This project traces the politics of rain and rainmaking in the Uluguru Mountains of Tanzania, one of East Africa’s most important watersheds. Through a historical ethnography of the mountains, it rethinks the relationship between climate change, colonialism, gender, and labor through two related arguments. First, expanding on Fernando Coronil’s (1997) idea of a “global division of nature,” the project maps not only divisions in production of raw materials but also in the (re)production of “nature” itself across scales. Through a history of Uluguru, it shows how nature is reproduced through the unpaid labor of rural people in the forests, mountains, and watersheds of the Global South—labor which today is carried out under increasingly precarious and coercive conditions. Second, the project explores how discourses and practices related to rainmaking serve as sites of political theorizing which bring issues of gender, ecology, and labor into a single frame. Reappearing in concerns over spirits rendered homeless through deforestation and in conflicts among Muslims over funeral prayers, ideas about rainmaking form of a mode of critique that places social reproduction at the center of politics. As such, it provides fertile ground for theorizing the climate crisis from a feminist and decolonial perspective.