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Agroecology Feminisms: Paraguay’s Conamuri in challenging industrial agriculture and patriarchy

Authors: Jamie Gagliano*, Syracuse University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Women, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: agroecology, campesino, gender, Latin America
Session Type: Paper
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As plantations of monocropped cash crops continue to expand globally, small farmers and peasants continue to make out a living at the edges of plantations. Though it draws on long histories of traditional farming, agroecology and food sovereignty emerged as alternative framings to counter industrial agriculture in the 1990s. It encapsulates both the diversity of traditional agricultural systems and the systematization of these practices, making it a response of campesinos (peasants) in a variety of contexts to the expansion of plantations and other ongoing systems of power. In Paraguay, agroecology has been taken up by several campesino social movements, particularly as a means of challenging the expansion of soy monoculture since, including the women’s and indigenous movement known as Conamuri. For twenty years, Conamuri has been advocating for agroecology as a means of both protecting campesino livelihoods and addressing power inequities along gendered lines. This paper highlights the possibilities and limitations of agroecology as a socially transformative agricultural system. By taking an ethnographic approach to two of Conamuri’s major projects – a native seed exchange network and agroecological yerba mate facility – this paper explores how Conamuri is able to render women’s knowledges more visible across multiple scales, but the fragility of campesino lives at the edge of plantations illustrates that agroecology as an alternative to industrial agriculture and means of addressing gendered inequalities remains fraught.

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