On May 27, 2017, EPRG hosted Dr. Robin Dunford from the University of Brighton who spoke about food sovereignty and transnational peasant resistance. Robin’s talk drew researchers, producers, and people interested in food politics and opened an important conversation about different ways in which we can start working towards an alternative vision of the food system.
Drawing on his 2016 book and multiple journal articles, Robin’s talk focused on the transnational networks such as La Via Campesina, and their efforts to recognize peasant rights at the UN level through the Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. Drawing out the major victories of the movement, but also the political concessions lost in the efforts to pass the Declaration, the discussion highlighted the tensions innate to balancing grassroots activism and transitional political initiatives.
Here is Robin’s description of his talk:
In the face of a globalised food system that destroys the planet and dispossesses people living from the land and sea, transnational peasant activists have demanded food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is a right to democratic control of the food system, and a right for peasants to produce ‘our own food on our own territory’. It points toward a world in which small producers cool the planet whilst feeding the world through small-scale, environmentally friendly forms of food production. This talk will explore the practices through which food sovereignty has been demanded and enacted. It will also reflect on the idea of ‘food sovereignty’, arguing that it is a pluriversal value, demanding a world in which many different ‘worlds’ of living from the land are possible. Finally, it will explore attempts, by transnational peasant activists, to incorporate food sovereignty into a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People in Rural Areas, exploring the process of translation that has occurred as rights demanded by rural social movement activists have gone through Human Rights Council processes.
Dr Robin Dunford researches and lectures in globalisation and contemporary war, with special interests in the practices and theories of transnational resistance.
Robin’s particular research focus is on how practices of resistance re-orientate understandings of human rights, citizenship, democracy and emancipation. He has written on practices of autonomous peasant resistance, focusing both on grass roots practices of land occupations and on transnational demands for rights to food sovereignty.