1st Edition

Food Sovereignty, Agroecology and Biocultural Diversity Constructing and contesting knowledge

Edited By Michel. P. Pimbert Copyright 2018
    358 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    358 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Contestations over knowledge – and who controls its production – are a key focus of social movements and other actors that promote food sovereignty, agroecology and biocultural diversity. This book critically examines the kinds of knowledge and ways of knowing needed for food sovereignty, agroecology and biocultural diversity.

    ‘Food sovereignty’ is understood here as a transformative process that seeks to recreate the democratic realm and regenerate a diversity of autonomous food systems based on agroecology, biocultural diversity, equity, social justice and ecological sustainability. It is shown that alternatives to the current model of development require radically different knowledges and epistemologies from those on offer today in mainstream institutions (including universities, policy think tanks and donor organizations). To achieve food sovereignty, agroecology and biocultural diversity, there is a need to re-imagine and construct knowledge for diversity, decentralisation, dynamic adaptation and democracy.

    The authors critically explore the changes in organizations, research paradigms and professional practice that could help transform and co-create knowledge for a new modernity based on plural definitions of wellbeing. Particular attention is given to institutional, pedagogical and methodological innovations that can enhance cognitive justice by giving hitherto excluded citizens more power and agency in the construction of knowledge. The book thus contributes to the democratization of knowledge and power in the domain of food, environment and society.

    Chapters 1 and 8 of this book are freely available as downloadable Open Access PDFs at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license. 

    Chapter 1. Constructing knowledge for food sovereignty, agroecology and biocultural diversity: an overview

    Michel P. Pimbert

    Chapter 2. How agricultural research systems shape a technological regime that develops genetic engineering but locks out agroecological innovations

    Gaëtan Vanloqueren and Philippe V. Baret

    Chapter 3. Sustainability science and ‘ignorance-based’ management for a resilient future    

    Steve L. Light and Kristen Blann

    Chapter 4. On non-equilibrium and nomadism: knowledge, diversity and global modernity in drylands

    Sian Sullivan and Katherine Homewood

    Chapter 5. Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya and the Malthusian paradigm in contemporary development thinking

    Eric B. Ross

    Chapter 6. Plants that speak and institutions that don't listen: notes on the protection of traditional knowledge

    Nina Isabella Moeller

    Chapter 7. Economics: the limitations of a special case

    Gilbert Rist

    Chapter 8. Democratizing knowledge and ways of knowing for food sovereignty, agroecology, and biocultural diversity

    Michel P. Pimbert


    Michel P. Pimbert is Professor of Agroecology and Food Politics and Director of the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University, UK.

    "This important book shows both how agroecology can democratize knowledge, and how democratizing knowledge in turn is a condition for agroecology to develop. We tend to reduce agroecology to a set of agronomic techniques that reduce the need for external inputs, that de-link food production from energy consumption, and that restore soil health. But it is, more fundamentally, about the direction of knowledge: agroecology operates the shift from top-down ‘extension’ of knowledge by experts delegated by ministries, to a bottom-up approach prioritizing the local knowledge developed by farmers. It is empowering, horizontal, based on trial and error — but it is also, as this volume shows, another way of conceiving science."- Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food (2008-2014), Co-Chair, International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), Belgium

    "The surge of industrial farming, mega use of pesticides and chronic commercialisation which appeared to ‘grow’ the world also created a cascade of painful issues relating to poisoning ‘Mother Earth’, generating inequities, destroying biodiversity and cultural heritage. This book provides not just insights into those issues but, more importantly, it explores the knowledge and transformative ways of knowing we now need to re-enchant the world. Deepening knowledge democracy is key for reclaiming food sovereignty, rooting agroecology, and promoting biocultural diversity. This book shows another world is indeed possible. All it needs is action."- Anwar Fazal, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, popularly called the "Alternative Nobel Prize", Malaysia

    "Michel Pimbert is a rare combination of syncretic visionary and on-the-ground change maker. He’s put together a unique volume showing that healthy farming systems and life-serving human communities emerge together. They are inseparable and they require diverse ways of knowing to free themselves from the deadening grip of dominant knowledge. In coming to appreciate this process, we learn to see the democratization of knowledge-creation as key to our future." - Frances Moore Lappé, Director of the Small Planet Institute, USA

    "This book tells us how we can still make peace with nature and with ourselves by constructing a radically different knowledge that is ecologically wise and based on epistemic justice. This decolonisation of knowledge depends on respectful engagements with diverse ways of life and in particular of indigenous peoples and other traditional local communities." - Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh and ICCA Consortium, India

    "At a time of climate extremes, unpredictability and complexities that the dominant food regime’s limited understandings can’t respond to, this book is an outstanding contribution to the transformation of knowledge construction for diversity. It describes the inter-dependence of food sovereignty, agroecology and biocultural diversity. And it illuminates pathways for them to flourish through knowledge justice grounded in cultural pluralism and context, including the place-based relationships vital to indigenous peoples’ knowledge systems. By suggesting deep changes to empower marginalized knowledge holders, this book lays groundwork for achieving and sustaining genuine 'well-being' in its diverse meanings." - Carol Kalafatic (Quechua), Vice-Chair of the UN High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition

    "Family farmers, pastoralists, fishers and small food processors continue to be neglected and marginalized by the dominant agricultural research system.  As this book makes abundantly clear, the exclusion of peasant farmers from the co-construction of knowledge for food and farming is not only an enduring injustice, it is also a huge wasted opportunity for the development of socially just and ecologically sustainable food systems everywhere. Achieving food sovereignty, amplifying agroecology and regenerating biocultural diversity all directly depend on peasant farmers and other citizens being centrally involved in deciding the priorities for research and innovation. This book is both timely and courageous because it clearly shows how the construction of knowledge can indeed be democratized and re-invented for the common good." - Mamadou Goita, Director of IRPAD and former Executive Director of ROPPA. Founding member of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, Mali