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Agroecology as Institutional Praxis: Peasant Pedagogy in International Food Policy Spaces

Authors: Anisah Madden*,
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Food Systems, Cultural Geography
Keywords: agroecology, peasant food sovereignty, popular pedagogy, solidarity building, institutional change, international food policy
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Social movement participation in international food and agriculture policy debates has increased over the last two decades due to coordinated grassroots efforts. As a result, the concept of agroecology - as articulated by peasant producers - is gaining legitimacy as a transformative approach to address pervasive food system dysfunctionalities (HLPE 2019; CFS, 2019). One of the avenues for food sovereignty movements to elevate agroecology in international food and agriculture policy spaces is through an autonomous Civil Society and Indigenous People’s Mechanism, which articulates with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Social movements in the Mechanism struggle to retain the transformative political spirit of agroecology and food sovereignty in their work in the CFS. This struggle involves material and immaterial dimensions – struggles over land and territories, as well as ideas and cosmovisions (Martines-Torres and Rosset, 2014; Fernandes 2009). Yet another dimension of struggle that has not received attention relates to how social movement ways of working and learning together – as elaborated by the pedagogical dimensions of agroecology - are constrained by the imperatives of international institutions. The pedagogical dimensions of agroecology are rooted in Paulo Friere’s popular education principles of horizontal learning, dialogue amongst knowledges, and the cultivation of values and emotional linkages that facilitate social transformation (LVC, 2017). This paper shows how Mechanism participants are using the pedagogical principles of agroecology to work through and with the institutional rules of the CFS while facilitating transnational movement building in creative ways and prefiguring possibilities for institutional change.

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