Guadalupe Souza Sátiro is a PhD student in Sustainable Development at the University of Brasília, UnB, with research focused on the diffusion of agroecological practices through public policies and the exercise of agri-food autonomy. She has a Master’s in international Cooperation for Development from the University of Salamanca, USAL, with research on “South-South cooperation for development: technical cooperation in public policy between Brazil and Africa”. She also has a law degree from Tiradentes University, UNIT, with research on “The right to development as a human right and its constitutional and international protection”. She has been a participant in numerous summer schools, including the most recent on “Pathways to Sustainability” conducted by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and STEPS Centre in the University of Sussex, England in 2018.
Agroecology and the Agrarian Question in the 21st century: open-ended questions and current challenges
What are the contributions of studies in agroecology to the critical agrarian studies? Is there a contemporary agrarian issue when dealing with agroecology? How relevant are the agroecological experiences from the Global South to the agrarian question in the 21st century? Why are Brazilian experiences and public policies conceived as a contradictory process and movement of “despeasantization” with the growth of agribusiness sector and “recampesinization” through agroecological social movements? What are the connections between industrial farming practices and viral epidemiology as COVID-19? How to bring about a sustainable food regime through industrial agriculture? These open and unresolved issues permeate the debate on agroecology and the agrarian problems now. Whereas classical agrarian studies, with a predominant focus on the socio-political and economic dimension, did not address cultural and ecological issues centrally, agroecological debate has gained notoriety and greater prominence in recent decades. Particularly, for conceiving the socio-ecological dimension in an interdependent way and correlated with cultural, economic and political dimensions of agriculture and for considering the importance of traditional and indigenous knowledge in the construction and reproduction of possible and existing alternatives for a sustainable agriculture (Altieri et al., 1987). Classic agrarian questions over the reproduction of capitalism in agriculture and the peasantry transformations are still alive, though there is no consensus about its different analysis. For Marx (1988), agriculture play a subordinate role to industrial capital. In this sense, for Kautsky (1980), even if the peasant units were immune to the changes, they would succumb to the industrial mode of production that would, at least ultimately, constitute the vehicle for their disappearance. On the other hand, Chayanov (1974) stated that the peasant economy does not respond to capitalist laws in terms of mechanisms of social reproduction and self-exploitation. For Shanin (1980), the “despeasantization” was the main structural social change in peasant societies. Ploeg (2008), following Chayanov studies, stated the contemporary processes of the reconstitution of the peasantry through the “recampesinization”. Meantime, in a sceptical view, Bernstein (2014; 2010) argues that there are no ‘peasants’ in the world of contemporary capitalist globalisation. Thus, the main goal of this paper is to conduct a debate on the points of convergence and divergence between agroecology and the critical agrarian studies addressing the Brazilian experience in the Global South context.
Affiliation: University of Brasília