Springfield native Megan Styles, an assistant professor of environmental studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, has written a new book investigating how the floriculture industry shapes Kenyan livelihoods, landscapes and politics.
“This book tells the story of one of many global commodities that we purchase and use daily without thinking about who made or grew them, how far they have traveled, and how they connect us to the world,” said Styles.
“Roses from Kenya: Labor, Environment, and the Global Trade in Cut Flowers,” explores the experiences and perspectives of the many people who work in the fresh cut roses industry; low-wage farm workers, farm managers and owners, Kenyan officials and the human rights and environmental activists advocating for reform. The lucrative and controversial industry employs approximately 90,000 workers, mostly women.
“Roses from Kenya isn’t just about cut flowers, it is also about Kenyan aspirations for development and the particular place, Lake Naivasha, where most of these roses are grown,” said Styles. “I wanted to tell this story from the viewpoint of people living and working in Naivasha, through their eyes and words. My hope is that once readers understand the deeper history of the Kenyan rose, they will want to know more about the people and places that provide us with chocolate, coffee, tea and all of the other everyday luxuries that enrich our lives.”
Styles is a Springfield native, who graduated from Southeast High School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Washington. Styles is also the co-editor for Culture, Agriculture, Food, and Environment (CAFÉ), a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Anthropological Association and helped to start the Community Garden at UIS.
“Roses From Kenya” is available for purchase online from the University of Washington Press at https://uwapress.uw.edu/book/9780295746500/roses-from-kenya/ and locally at Barnes & Noble in Springfield.