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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/hqz7-vx72


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Decolonizing Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Education


agriculture and agrarian systems

food and nutrition


Quoting a fellow activist in a 2012 article titled, “Decolonizing Together: Moving Beyond a Politics of Solidarity and Toward a Practice of Decolonization,” Harsha Walia writes, “Decolonization is a dramatic reimagining of relationships with land, people and the state. Much of this requires study. It requires conversation. It is a practice; it is an unlearning.” Assembling a diverse gathering of perspectives and insights, this session argues that the time for reimaging relationships and for an unlearning is overdue in the educational frameworks that have defined sustainable agriculture and food systems (SAFS) for much of its history as a subject of study and field of practice. Anthropology, as a discipline both marred by colonial histories and presents, and an active space of decolonization, offers unique vantage points into the education around SAFS. The conventional whitewashed canon of SAFS’s narrative, in both educational and popular contexts, places its origins and evolution with a handful of European and Euro-American “pioneers” and “visionaries.” In old and familiar narratives of discovery and proprietorship, we know that many of these “pioneering” works are in fact, based not on original knowledge, but on a millennia-old foundation of indigenous and peasant farming and food production. The fact that many domains have been stewarded by women, has remained obscured in dominant narratives. So too have the contributions of non-white agricultural scientists like George Washington Carver and Booker T. Whatley. While recent challenges by BIPOC and LGBTQ participants and commentators promise to redefine these narratives, countervailing forces are also emerging that seek to erase the long-fought and hard-won progress of food justice in favor of more “neutral” discourses amenable to market-based solutions and/or financialization. This panel will both recognize and celebrate the contributions of groups of people and individuals whose stories and contributions to the development of SAFS have been obscured or erased. It seeks to interrogate and destabilize the historical and cultural processes that have led to dominant and dominating narratives of SAFS, drawing on ethnographic and autoethnographic insights. In doing so, we challenge the normative pedagogies, discourses, and legacies of what Devon Pena identifies as “settler colonial sustainable agriculture,” and to offer a revisionist framework that is befitting a diversified sustainable agriculture pedagogy in the age of Me Too, Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and other specific BIPOC and LBTQIA contributions to the history, theory, and practice of sustainable agriculture and food systems.


Transcript English (automatic)

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