‘TO CONSERVE IS TO RESIST’:
Traditional communities mobilise agri-food and musical cultures for a territorialized development in the Bocaina, Brazil
Webinar 10.00-11.30am Thursday 11 Feb 2021
Dr Les Levidow,
Development Policy & Practice (DPP), Social Sciences and Global Studies (SSGS), Open University
In Brazil’s Bocaina coastal region, the Fórum de Comunidades Tradicionais (FCT) has brought together three traditional communities: indigenous guaraní, quilombolas (descendants of escaped slaves) and caiçaras (descendants of Portuguese settlers). In recent decades they have faced threats from the dominant development-as-modernisation, which has been colonising their everyday lives in many ways, e.g. by degrading their natural-resource base, expanding real-estate interests, shifting their production-consumption patterns and fragmenting their territory. To counter such threats, the FCT demands justiça socioambiental (socio-environmental justice); this perspective has helped to unite the three communities, coordinate joint activities and build a broader support network.
As an initial aim, the FCT sought to establish the communities’ role in nature conservation, while contesting the dominant portrayal of an ‘untouched Nature’. The communities later extended biodiverse agroecological agroforestry to commercialise new food products, complementing a community-based tourism (TBC). Their ethno-social diversity sustains local agri-biodiversity, as a basis to valorise agricultural traditions in old and new forms. In all those ways, ‘To conserve is to resist’, as in the FCT motto.
All three communities continue their musical traditions, closely rooted in dance. Such music help to renew collective bonds called mutirão (working together or mutual aid), central to their traditional agri-food practices. An ethnically-differentiated education programme has helped to link and renew their traditional cultures. These have gained a new significance for an agroecological inter-group identity, a communal sense of territorial belonging and thus long-standing claims to the land. Together these activities build a territorialized development, aiming to transform the mode of production towards greater socio-economic equity.
This talk draws on a case study from our ‘Research Partnership for an Agroecology-Based Solidarity Economy (AgroEcos) in Bolivia and Brazil’, funded by the UK’s Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), https://projetoagroecos.wixsite.com/meusite
This talk focuses on conflicts and changes during approximately the decade before the Covid-19 pandemic. For recent case studies, see our tri-lingual project report with an English-language version at the end, https://3d33eb12-f421-47a1-a45f-76acc45bd2d6.filesusr.com/ugd/5872ec_70e7b1823b734e6aa49c2b8ac672392a.pdf