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Agroecology or Collapse Part III – Reclaiming the ‘archaic’, ‘anarchic’, and ‘utopian’ as the language of food system transformation

Food distribution in Rio de Janeiro during the pandemic. Source: AS-PTA.

Agroecology or Collapse Part III – Reclaiming the ‘archaic’, ‘anarchic’, and ‘utopian’ as the language of food system transformation

Agroecology is a struggle to overcome industrial agriculture and is simultaneously a practice, a science, and a movement. Detractors often criticize Agroecology saying it is archaic, anarchic, & utopian. Perhaps, paradoxically, this is where its potential lies. 

Agroecology is archaic, anarchic, and utopian – of course it is and thank goodness! In the final post of this three-part series, Paulo Petersen and Denis Monteiro push back against the arguments often made against agroecology. They engage with the language used to critique agroecology, and reverse it to articulate these as critical resources for social transformation. They go on to present the case for agroecology as the alternative model to prevent the looming collapse focusing on the Brazilian situation as a case in point. Click through to read Part I and part II. Earlier versions of this pieces were previously published in Portuguese.


Agroecology has been defined based on three interdependent dimensions: as a practice, as a scientific approach and as a social movement. As a social practice, it is expressed in the various ways in which peasant family farming and indigenous and traditional peoples and communities organize their work for the diversified production of food and other agricultural products. This is accomplished through cooperative processes developed in close interaction with ecological and socio-cultural dynamics of the territories in which they take root. By using systemic and participatory approaches, agroecology articulates frontier knowledge based on different scientific disciplines combined with popular biocultural knowledge.

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