Food Sovereignty: Agriculture, Imperialism, and Climate Change
Where do we get our food? Who grows our food? And what do big farmers, small peasants, and food supply have to do with global warming, global development, and a possible global cooling? Food is the hidden underbelly of global environmental change and the global class structure. An open market in Paris selling pomegranates is linked by a thousand tendrils to Tunisian underdevelopment and groundwater depletion. Meanwhile, a Cuban finca, a farming collective, may be the key which unlocks a sustainable planet for humanity. What is food sovereignty? And does it offer a viable alternative to the industrial food production processes that undergird the global capitalist economy?
This course introduces students to food sovereignty and the global food system through a range of readings and approaches: political ecology, agro-ecology, state planning, and imperialism. Through authors from Utsa and Prabhat Patnaik to Ivette Perfecto and John Vandermeer, we will achieve several goals: One, to understand the global food system and its role in the global class structure. Two, to understand the ecological consequences of industrialized farming. And three, to understand the role of agroecology, food sovereignty, and the agrarian question in crafting a sustainable and egalitarian future. We will ask: how do food production and agriculture interlock with broader debates within environmentalism? How does focusing on small peasant production allow us to think differently about global environmental problems, landscape management, and schemes for world-wide ecological biodiversity reserves? How do these questions help us see matters of Indigenous self-determination in different ways? How does an environmentally restorative and egalitarian agricultural system interact with broader macroeconomic planning? And how are North-South power differentials and oppression visible through commodity exports in the past and present?
Course ScheduleSunday, 2:00-5:00pm ET
October 24 — November 14, 2021