CfP POLLEN2022: The Politics of Agroecology in Sub-Saharan Africa: Critical Perspectives

Organizer/main contact person: Patrick Bottazzi and Sébastien Boillat, Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Hallerstrasse 12, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland

Agroecology is commonly defined as a triple object combining ecologically sounds agronomic practices, a corpus of scientific knowledge and a social movement (Wezel et al. 2009). It has been argued that its wide adoption in sub-Saharan African present the potential to foster adaptation to climate change, biodiversity protection, and farmers’ food sovereignty and livelihoods. Despite these assumptions, recent literature on sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) revealed that most of the agroecological initiatives are led by ‘classical’ development and conservation agencies such as NGOs, government, research institutes and more recently private ‘organic’ industry (Isgren and Ness 2017; Bottazzi and Boillat 2021; Boillat, Belmin, and Bottazzi 2021).

This issues raises several questions related to the ‘political appropriation’ of agroecology (Giraldo and Rosset 2018; Altieri and Toledo 2011) and its real emancipatory potential for rural societies in SSA. What are the discourses, narratives and power relations prevailing in agroecological movements, projects and programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa? Do these represent a potentially counter-hegemonic movement that empowers producers and consumers? Or, to the contrary, do they entail new mechanisms of appropriation of nature that build on dominant neo-colonial ecologies? Who are the winners and the losers in the process of transition to agroecology? Given these potentially strongly divergent outcomes, we postulate that a strongly critical approach is needed to scrutinize the power relationships at play around the promotion and implementation of agroecology in the region.

We invite contributions to several related topics such as:

  • Politics, discourse, narrative and strategies of agroecology
  • Territorial aspects, access to natural resources and land rights
  • Just transition, labour and vulnerable people
  • Power asymmetries, transnational networks
  • Gender, ecofeminism and reproductive spaces

If you are interested to contribute to this session, please send your presentation title (max. 20 words), your name, your affiliation, an abstract of maximum 250 words and 3 keywords to Sébastien Boillat (sebastien.boillat@giub.unibe.ch) or Patrick Bottazzi (patrick.bottazzi@giub.unibe.ch) by January 29th, 2022.

References

Altieri, Miguel A, and Victor Manuel Toledo. 2011. “The Agroecological Revolution in Latin America: Rescuing Nature, Ensuring Food Sovereignty and Empowering Peasants.” The Journal of Peasant Studies 38 (3): 587–612. https://doi.org/10.1080/03066150.2011.582947.

Boillat, Sébastien, Raphael Belmin, and Patrick Bottazzi. 2021. “The Agroecological Transition in Senegal: Transnational Links and Uneven Empowerment.” Agriculture and Human Values.

Bottazzi, Patrick, and Sébastien Boillat. 2021. “Political Agroecology in Sub-Saharan Africa: Repertoires of Collective Action and Strategies of Farmer Unions in Senegal.” Sustainability.

Giraldo, Omar Felipe, and Peter M Rosset. 2018. “Agroecology as a Territory in Dispute: Between Institutionality and Social Movements.” The Journal of Peasant Studies 45 (3): 545–64. https://doi.org/10.1080/03066150.2017.1353496.

Isgren, Ellinor, and Barry Ness. 2017. “Agroecology to Promote Just Sustainability Transitions: Analysis of a Civil Society Network in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.” Sustainability 9 (8). https://doi.org/10.3390/su9081357.

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