Essam, Alice

Essam, Alice
Start date:
October 2018
Research Topic:
Agroecology in the Amazon
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Antonio Ioris
Supervising school:
School of Planning and Geography,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship
External Sponsor:
Dr Sergei Shubin

My research seeks to understand the dynamics of, and interconnections between, different agroecology stakeholders, consumers and policy makers in the Amazon region in Brazil.

Based on principles of knowledge sharing and legitimised by subsistence farmers and their families in the context of the Amazon region, agroecology has, to date, been incorporated on various institutional levels in Brazil, including through a national plan. However, efforts to support agroecology appear juxtaposed with economic development strategies based on ‘agro-neoliberalism’, producing a kind of ‘agro-extractivism’.

Brazil has recently elected a president whose manifesto included expansion of soya and cattle production in the Amazon for economic gains, prime examples of ‘agro-extractive’ activities. Important questions immediately arise in the context of this research project: at what price – with what consequences for agroecology communities and the practice of agroecology? At the same time, it must not be overlooked that this election was possible because of considerable popular support. This context calls for fresh investigation into the dynamic formation of identities, values and otherness in development frontiers, as the result of population migration, multiple struggles and intensive interaction with socio-ecological change.

Agri-food systems have become highly politicised; this context is ripe for examination into the politico-economic and socio-cultural aspects of agro-ecological transitions.