Fast Violence, Slow Resistance: Territoriality, Land Rights, and Collective Identity for Agrobiodiversity Governance in the Americas

Authors: Veronica Limeberry*, American University
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Agricultural Geography, Environmental Justice
Keywords: Indigenous activism, territory, biodiversity, food security, sovereignty, environmental justice
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 39
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Across Latin America four land-rights activists or environmental defenders are killed per week trying to contest state-based violence. Simultaneously, global agrobiodiversity is under threat, endangering food security. From centuries of producing and consuming thousands of plant varieties, humans now globally cultivate 150 plant species for consumption, with 4 (rice, wheat, corn, and potatoes) comprising 50% of our diets. To this end, my paper asks: How do land-based groups become constituted as actors with the capacity to express their interests against extractivist forces (such as mining projects, deforestation for industrial agriculture, and encroaching development) to foster food security and even sovereignty? Using qualitative mixed methods, vis-à-vis discourse analysis and ethnographic field work in the Appalachian US, Sierra Sur, Mexico, Andean Peru, and the Tribuga Gulf of Colombia, my research highlights the successes of Indigenous and Afro-Diaspora peoples in claiming land rights for agrobiodiversity protection. Despite erasure and violence they have implemented cutting edge policy solutions for agrobiodiversity and land management, gaining legal protections and defending key agrobiodiversity reserves. For example, Parque de la Papa in Andean Peru –an Indigenous managed biodiversity reserve—is working with agronomists to adapt potato varieties to rapidly changing climate conditions. My research with these groups and conservation policy has direct impact on re-thinking and re-imagining biodiversity governance and food security in the current era of climatic and food crises, as well as contributing to knowledge on the intersections of identity, indigeneity, conservation, and food systems.

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