Unveiling the Other Countryside: Food Sovereignty, Land and Race in Argentina

Authors: Daniela Marini*, University of Colorado
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, South America, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: race, toxicity, soybean, migrant farming labor, whiteness
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Food sovereignty is expanding as a global convergence space in which activists and scholars mobilize a set of principles about how to democratize both access to resources and political power. However, the movement risks overlooking race and class divergences within situated racial ideologies. To open up the possibility of social transformation predicated on the social and ecological justice that is central to the movement, the present work juxtaposes strategies for food sovereignty by two social groups in Argentina: proponents of agroecology-based food sovereignty resisting export-oriented soybean agribusiness, and Bolivian migrant vegetable growers producing food for domestic markets. The former, comprised of mostly white, urban activists, academics, and farmer-practitioners, denounces the socio-environmental costs of agribusiness while embraces agroecology as a normative path towards food sovereignty. The second is a heterogeneous, racially-marked class including recent migrants and established families, farm owners, renters and laborers. They articulate their position as the Other Countryside, the one that produces food for domestic consumption while the government threatens the conditions for their reproduction. In a scenario of rising rental prices, Bolivians demand a state-supported agrarian reform to guarantee food sovereignty for Argentines. Paradoxically, activists avoid engaging with the racial structures of land distribution that Bolivians are voicing and promote agroecology as a normative solution. I argue that activists struggle to incorporate ethnic differences within their understanding of the nation, making Bolivian labor invisible. Based on fifteen months of fieldwork in an agricultural hub in the Pampas, this work generates insights towards decolonizing the food sovereignty movement.

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