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Title: Spaces of agrarian struggle : ALBA, La Via Campesina and the politics of 'food sovereignity'
Author: Lubbock, Rowan
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 2272
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis offers an in-depth analysis of the political project of ‘food sovereignty’ within the Latin American regional institution of ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América: Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). As a means of navigating ALBA’s agrarian transformation, the thesis employs a broadly historical materialist approach to the analysis of class struggle and sociopolitical change in the context of realizing a new food sovereignty regime. Drawing primarily on a neo-Poulantzian perspective, the analysis opens up the question of the bureaucratic state itself – as a condensation of class relations and hegemonic discourses – through the tripartite lens of rights, territory and sovereignty. Such coordinates are key areas of contestation for food sovereignty protagonists, who not only struggle against the power of landed capital but also the concentrated force of state power. To ground these theoretical parameters, the empirical data draws upon fieldwork carried out in Venezuela (the economic and ideological center of the ALBA bloc). Through an examination of social movements, peasant producers and activists, educational/pedagogical institutions promoting the practices of food sovereignty, and workers within ALBA’s rice producing factory network, the study offers a multifaceted account of the complex and contradictory transition away from capitalist agriculture and towards a new food regime embedded within structures of popular empowerment. From this analysis, the thesis uncovers a number of critical findings that are not often acknowledged within the ALBA literature; namely, that while the role of the ‘post-liberal’ state has been a key actor in the improvement of social wellbeing, popular classes find their greatest challenge in the form of the strong, bureaucratic state. Such a contradiction – between state-as-ally and state-as-nemesis – speaks directly to the Poulantzian problematic of ‘democratic socialism’, and the challenge of engaging with state institutions in order to dissolve their very logic. The study therefore offers important lessons with respect to the limits and prospects of building ‘socialism in the 21st century’.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available