At long last, my book chapter on the MST (Landless Rural Workers’ Movement in Brazil) is out, as part of the volume Subsistence Under Capitalism!

  • M. J. Chappell. “Alternative agriculture, the vernacular, and the MST: Re-creating subsistence as the sustainable development of human rights.” (2016). Chapter 9, pp. 254-297 in J. Murton, D. Bavington, and C. Dokis (eds.), Subsistence Under Capitalism: Nature and Economy in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Rural, Wildland and Resource Studies Series. Montreal, Quebec: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

“The question of how to provide for so-called “sustainable development” is increasingly coming up against similar questions of how to address the global problems of climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental toxification and rapid depletion of natural resources. Despite commitments from world governments to halving the number of hungry in the world by 2015, the number of acutely malnourished people rose past 1 billion during the 2009 food crisis, wiping out much of the modest progress of the past decades, and not including the continuing plight of the 2-3 billion humans suffering from micronutrient deficiencies (“Hidden Hunger”). Even amidst worldwide production sufficient to feed the present and likely future global population, the focus of governmental rhetoric and much of academic discourse remains on production and yield, even among many environmentalists and ecologists who look to further intensification and “land sparing” to generate space for sustainable agricultural development. In contrast, in the present work, I propose an approach to sustainable development focusing on equality rather than production, the provision of human rights rather than economic development, and the integration of agroecological agricultural methods with subsistence and locally-focused agriculture rather than export and cash crops. These ideas will be examined specifically through a case-study of the literature dealing with Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers’ Movement.”

My thanks to my dear friend Dean Bavington for the original invitation to the workshop, and to our colleagues and his fellow editors, Jamie Murton (@JamieMurton) and Carly Dokis for shepherding this through!

As you may have surmised, the full book is available from the usual suspects, as well as through the publisher’s website.

Other fantastic entries (out of ALL of the fantastic entries) in the book include “The Seeds of Calculability: The Home Farms Experiment on and off the Books,” by Sarah J. Martin (@eatingpolitics), “Rural Households, Subsistence, and Environment on the Canadian Shield, 1901-1940,” by  Ruth W. Sandwell (which includes some fascinating exploration of rural-urban patterns in Canada that deserve continued examination and thought about urbanization more generally), “Aboriginal Subsistence Practices in an “Isolated” Region
of Northern Alberta” by Clinton N. Westman, “Working with Fish in the Shadows of Sustainability,” by my friend Jennifer Lee Johnson and her co-author Bakaaki Robert, “Rethinking the Legacies of “Subsistence Thinking”” by the always-provocative Michael J. Hathaway, and  the immensely interesting and important piece “In Defence of Vernacular Ways” by
Sajay Samuel.

Get your copy today! 

I should also mention two other pieces we have in press:

  • M. E. Schipanski, G. K. MacDonald, S. Rosenzweig, M. J. Chappell, E. M. Bennett, R. Bezner Kerr, J. Blesh, T. Crews, L. Drinkwater, J. G. Lundgren, and C. Schnarr. (In press). “Realizing resilient food systems.” BioScience. DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biw052.
    • Written with colleagues based on an Ecological Society of America Ignite session: “Food systems are under increasing pressure to produce sufficient food for the global population, decrease the environmental impacts of production, and buffer against complex global change. Food security also remains elusive for many populations worldwide. Greater emphasis on food system resilience could reduce these vulnerabilities. We outline integrated strategies that together could foster food system resilience across scales, including (a) integrating gender equity and social justice into food security research and initiatives, (b) increasing the use of ecological processes rather than external inputs for crop production, (c) fostering regionalized food distribution networks and waste reduction, and (d) linking human nutrition and agricultural production policies. Enhancing social–ecological links and fostering adaptive capacity are essential to cope with short-term volatility and longer-term global change pressures. Finally, we highlight regional case studies that have enhanced food system resilience for vulnerable populations. Efforts in these areas could have dramatic impacts on global food system resilience.”
    • The first piece I know of to quantitatively show the neglect of issues of power, equity, justice, and gender in the food security literature.
  • M. J. Chappell, J. R. Moore, and A. A. Heckelman. (In press.) “Participation in a city food security program may be linked to higher ant alpha and beta diversity: An exploratory case from Belo Horizonte, Brazil.” Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. DOI: 10.1080/21683565.2016.1160020.
    • At long last, based on my work in Brazil in the ’00s. With fellow AgroEcoPeeps James Moore and Amber Heckelman. We show that Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s food security programs may have also had positive conservation effects: “This paper reports the results of a case study examining the connections between municipal food security policy and biodiversity in the region of Belo Horizonte, a populous city in the heavily fragmented Brazilian cerrado (savannah)/Atlantic forest transition region. Belo Horizonte, through its Secretariat of Food and Nutrition Security (SMASAN), has generated increased food security in the city, in part by economically supporting local small farmers. Farmers’ economic security has been previously linked to their agricultural practices and sustainability; thus SMASAN’s programs potentially affect biodiversity in the region’s agricultural matrix and rainforest fragments through their work with farmers. In order to examine this dynamic, we compared ground-foraging ant diversity on four “SMASAN” and three “non-SMASAN” farms and adjoining forest fragments. Supported by data from farmer interviews, sampling in 2005 and 2006 indicated SMASAN farms had: (a) higher alpha and beta diversity; and (b) potentially greater overlap between species found on-farm and in adjacent forest fragments. This case study may be the first directly linking biodiversity conservation with food security and changes in local food policy institutions, emphasizing the importance of an approach integrating politics and ecology, and the potential for human well-being and conservation to go hand-in-hand.”

Happy reading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s