Abolitionist Agroecology

by Maywa Montenegro de Wit

An agroecological food system is no more about organic food than abolition is about unlocking a prison door. In this vital essay, Maywa Montenegro de Wit weaves together ideas from the most important political and ecological literatures of the late 20th and early 21st century. The pandemic provides a focus for these two sources of illumination, but the brilliant light that comes from bringing these disciplines together will shine long after Covid-19’s shadow passes.
Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved

The booklet rings with the question: reform or transformation? It asks, shall we mitigate and adapt or overhaul our imaginaries? We have been given a scaffold for tackling the bastion of colonialism and coloniality and for rebuilding the systems that have rammed a knee into already suffocating food and socio-economic systems. It is time to rise up from a wilfully constructed nightmare.
Nnimmo Bassey, author of To Cook a Continent:
Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa

& founder of Health of Mother Earth Foundation

Montenegro de Wit makes a compelling case for shifts towards diversified agro-ecological systems that recognise the complex interconnections between human and animal health, plants and our shared environment and futures.
Mariam Mayet, Executive Director,
African Centre for Biodiversity

Covid-19 has exposed the racialized nature of food systems, but also potentially grants opportunities to build anew. Maywa Montenegro explores a series of breakdowns, from fractured supply chains to uncontrolled infection among essential food workers to Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities scythed through by the virus along old grooves of race-class oppression. She traces the likely origins of COVID-19 to spillover sites forged by agroindustrial expansion into forested regions where pathogens spring free and infect humans. Industrial animal agriculture drives these ecological changes that incubate future outbreaks. Pandemics have their roots in the violent separation of communities from their territories, seeds, knowledge and wealth. Racism enables such theft as fundamental to capitalist expansion.

To tackle pandemics and food injustices, Montenegro calls for an abolitionist agroecology. No anti-capitalist alternative can ignore the racism that is central to the transnational industrial food system. Scholars including Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Mariame Kaba have argued that although abolition is frequently seen as an oppositional strategy — to eradicate, for example, prisons and police — abolition is equally propositional. An abolitionist agroecology cracks open multiple possibilities that respond to the exigencies of a pandemic planet — there is no ‘normal’ to which we can safely return.

ISBN Print: 978-1990263-03-3
Publication Date: April 2021
Page Count: 79
Binding Type: Soft cover
Trim Size: 6x9
Language: English
Colour: B&W

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