In the industrial or corporate food regime, hunger is a staple commodity. Agrarian and food justice movements have come a long way in building an alternative system, but there are still many challenges.
Henry Bernstein critiques the Food Sovereignty literature’s reliance on “emblematic instances,” interrogating the extent to which these instances actually represent a fundamentally different type of production than entrepreneurial capitalist agriculture.
Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, shares the perspective of global peasants. She emphasizes that peasants are an organized movement, not merely resisting but working to build a new world through the idea of Food Sovereignty and opens the floor for dialogue between the peasants of the world and academics and activists committed to solidarity with them.
Malik Yakini introduces the audience to the current situation in Detroit and his organization’s work building capacity, community empowerment, and democracy through a variety of food programs. He also emphasizes the centrality of issues of race both in the broader context and within the Food Sovereignty movement.
Blain Snipstal, returning generation peasant farmer and leader in La Via Campesina North America discusses the need to engage emotionally with Food Sovereignty, as part of a movement for re-peasantization and revalorizing marginalized knowledge, not merely as an abstract intellectual concept.
James Scott, co-director of Yale Agrarian Studies Program, talks of how the secure access to food is a pre-condition to all other human rights. Without secure access to food people will allow encroachment of their rights by the people who do control food.
Martha Jane Robbins offers feedback on key papers, including Kloppenberg and Bernstein’s, from the perspective of La Via Campesina, drawing attention to the deliberate political usage of terms like “Food Sovereignty” and “peasant” as framing concepts for political organizing.