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Ignatius Gutsa

LAHRI / LUCAS Virtual Fellow 2023
Areas of expertise
environmental anthropology, local knowledge systems, impact of climate change
Arts, Humanities and Cultures
Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute / Leeds Centre For African Studies

Dr. Ignatius Gutsa holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Community and Social Development at the University of Zimbabwe and also a Research Associate at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Dr. Gutsa has researched and published widely on environmental anthropology, local knowledge systems and the impact of climate change on elderly headed households in rural Zimbabwe and the experiences of older adults with long term care in Zimbabwe. Aside from his work as an academic he has been involved in a number of consultancies ranging from baseline studies, feasibility studies and end of term programme evaluations in the development sector for International and local NGOs in Zimbabwe and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Project Title: Older women’s local ecological knowledge, indigenous seed selection techniques and agricultural practices for household food security in the face of climate change in Goromonzi district, Zimbabwe.


Dr. Gutsa’s LUCAS-LAHRI Virtual Research Fellowship foregrounds the critical issue of “African ecologies” by investigating the extent to which in the face of climate change older women’s activities to ensure household food security are mediated by their knowledge of the local ecology, agricultural practices, indigenous seed varieties and indigenous food crop selection techniques. In a gendered division of rural labour and expertise, older women are often guardians of indigenous seeds, plant varieties and soils. This knowledge built through generations is passed on through cultural knowledge transmission systems. This research acknowledges that older women play an active part in their search for order and meaning to achieve household food security while grappling with the absurd opposition between indigenous and Western knowledge systems and rationalities, drawing upon their different stocks of available discourses shared with contemporaries and predecessors. The study is also situated in agro-neo-colonialism debates (Pfrimer and Junior, 2017) by focusing on the use of colonial temporalities to legitimate/delegitimize local ecological knowledge and traditional seed selection techniques/seed varieties regarded as having failed “scientific rigour”. This is important because in the face of climate change, local communities have been known to observe local environmental indicators to issue early warnings to the community and predict weather patterns, pest infestations and other hazards to secure their food security.