This article discusses the radical nature of ideas of food sovereignty through an exploration of the history of peasant dispossession under capitalism. It uses as a starting point Fernand Braudel’s discussion of the antagonism between the ‘non-economy’ of peasant production and the ‘anti-market’ of capitalism. Apologists for dispossession and enclosure asserted the naturalness of a world dominated by capital despite its obvious failings. The article explores such arguments and peasant resistance in Britain, Ireland, India and Guatemala and argues that food sovereignty’s radical nature lies in its promise to curtail the power of capital to continue dispossession.
Jim Handy is a professor of History and Chair, Department of History, University of Saskatchewan. Professor Handy is author of Revolution in the Countryside: Rural Conflict and Agrarian Reform in Guatemala, 1944-1954 and Gift of the Devil: A History of Guatemala.
Food Sovereignty: a critical dialogue, 14 - 15 September, New Haven.