Session: Emerging Pursuits in Agroecology: Forging New Interdisciplinary Research Connections and Collaborations
Agroecology: A path to reach out environmental justice in peasant territories
Monday, August 2, 2021
Link To Share This Presentation: https://cdmcd.co/7rv3Dx
Alejandra Guzmán Luna, Gund Institute, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT; Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT and Atsiry Fabila López Fabila, Sociedad y Cultura, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Mexico
Alejandra Guzmán Luna
University of VermontUniversity of Vermont BurlingtonBurlington
Background/Question/Methods . To seek environmental change without simultaneously addressing other social or racial inequities is a symptom of a hegemonic perspective. In that vein, transformational agroecology (TA) is a broad interdisciplinary and inter-epistemological field with the common goal of achieving food sovereignty, and not always recognized, environmental justice. TA is expressed in a different way in each territory since it embraces diversity and plurality, evading universalization. TA projects recognize injustice comprehensively and create endogenous alternatives that emerge from peasant territories. We approach the degradation of nature from the perspective of environmental justice. This approach recognizes that the unequal distribution of environmental damages, as well as their impacts, correlates geographically with racial or ethnic patterns of the people who inhabit territories often sacrificed in the pursuit of development objectives. However, some communities and collectives mobilize to face environmental injustices and to claim their right to live in a healthy environment in the way they deem most appropriate. This resistance includes efforts to reproduce their livelihoods and to build local food systems. Environmental justice and TA are expressed in the material and immaterial peasant territories as the struggle to reinforce endogenous alternatives. In this work, we aim to better understand the mutual contributions between TA and environmental justice strengthens peasant territories in the Global South through an analysis of two case studies in Mexico. The data represents four years of fieldwork by the first author. Results/Conclusions . The first site, Río Playa, is a farmer’s community that, driven by its spirituality. After a national oil company flooded 90% of their productive land with seawater, the community created a unique method of growing mangrove as a way “to give life there”. Those steps towards the construction of environmental justice carried them into agroecology in the cacao plantations as refugees for wild fauna, and link to their loved ones who passed away. The second study was conducted with CESMACH, an organic coffee cooperative that is in the process of understanding how their own environmentalism, beyond that defined through marketing certifications, is a long and sinuous way to preserve their territory. Families are moving from “our food is the food of the poor” to “we are rich in the food of our heritage”. Ecologically complex coffee plots, milpa, and native seeds are fundamental to achieving food sovereignty. The brief review of these two cases brings some light to the indivisibility of TA and environmental justice in peasant territories.