Making Agrarian Justice Happen: Strategy, Activism and Lessons from Grassroots Leaders at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives

Type: Panel
Theme: Public Engagement in Geography
Sponsor Groups: Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM (MDT)
Room: Napoleon A2, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Organizers: Annie Shattuck, Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, Maywa Montenegro
Chairs: Maywa Montenegro


This panel focuses on grassroots organizers, activists, and public intellectuals who are making farm and food justice. We ask: How do effective university-community partnerships work? How can agri-food scholars be better listeners? How do we move from a record amount of scholarship on land and labor rights, environmental justice, food sovereignty, and racialized food system policy towards advancing the pragmatic work of agrarian justice, practically and strategically?

We invite scholars to an interactive panel discussion with long time organizers for agrarian justice with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives - an umbrella organization composed of 35 coops representing 12,000 African American farm families from Texas to North Carolina, which assists farmers in land retention and the development of economically self-sufficient communities - and the Agroecology Research-Action Collective, a newly formed group of scholars working on community-partnered research.

The panel will focus on lessons from 50 years of work in the South, on strategies for co-learning, and on the methodological commitments of community-partnered research for agrarian justice. Inspired by the Gramscian notion of ‘organic intellectuals,’ we will hear from grassroots leaders about their work, where it runs up against structural roadblocks, and how academics can partner in terms of supporting analysis that comes from the frontline.

We will hear from Ben Burkett, Monica A. Rainge, and Catarina Passidomo.

Ben Burkett is president of the National Family Farm Coalition and current director of the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, the local arm of The Federation of Southern Cooperatives. A fourth-generation farmer, Burkett has been an activist for more than 30 years, and is a member of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina. He is a recipient of the 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize.

Monica A. Rainge, an agricultural lawyer, who directs leads outreach and technical assistance to fight African American land loss. Rainge currently serves as a board member for the Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG); she is the Chair of the FAMU Brooksville Agricultural and Environmental Research Station Advisory Committee; and as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Institute for Women's Policy Research, Status of Women in the U.S. South Research Consortium. She frequently advocates and lectures nationally on food security issues and the preservation of agricultural land rights in the South.

Catarina Passidomo is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi, where she also serves as a faculty advisor to the Southern Foodways Alliance – an organization that documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing U.S. South. Passidomo’s current research explores the connections between the practice and rhetoric of ‘gastrodiplomacy’ in the U.S. South and Peru.

We hope you will join us!


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Maywa Montenegro ESPM, UC Berkeley 20
Discussant Garrett Graddy-Lovelace American University School of International Service 20
Panelist Catarina Passidomo University of Mississippi 20
Panelist Monica Rainge Federation of Southern Cooperatives, National Family Farm Coalition 20
Panelist Ben Burkett Federation of Southern Cooperatives, National Family Farm Coalition 20

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