Gender is crucial in smallscale agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa, but knowledge partial. Research on societies where women depend on men for productive resources focus more on gendered access to and control over land but less so on immaterial resources such as labour or emotions. However, love as an emotion binds people together through social practices that are contingent on culture, historical processes, and social trends. As such love is a perfect site for studying power.
We examine gender, power and the emotion of love in intimate contracts. In household cooperation, decision-making, and time management, we study how intimacy is exercised in negotiations and transactions of personal ties resulting in equality, emancipation or oppression. We compare food insecure Shona society (Zimbabwe) where polygyny reproduces women’s weak land rights with Akan society (Ghana), where climate change adaptation maintains male authority at the expense of food security and women’s empowerment. Drawing on three theoretical advances: love power, right-in-person, the love triangle; and interactive methods: diaries, focus groups; life history interviews, phone-apps; we analyse how emotions, such as love, and power in intimate contracts affect gendered rights to resources. This will generate new knowledge to stimulate policy debates on the gendered dynamics of resource management and food security. Early findings show how love and gender dynamics shape conditions for sustainable development.