Decolonial Resistance in Agriculture: The Role of Spirituality in the Work of Food Sovereignty Organizations in Mexico
Abstract: Recent decades have exposed the crisis inherent in the globalized agriculture system characterized by nature commodification, trade liberalization, corporatization and environmental destruction. The crisis is driven by a colonial and neoliberal-capitalist ideology grounded in the supposed universality of western knowledge. Smallholders are particularly affected, with the dominant system threatening both their practices and knowledges, but are increasingly cultivating resistance through the practice of food sovereignty. Based on an understanding of the connectedness of agricultural and epistemological monocultures, the study explores how spirituality as a non-western way of knowing informs the work of three food sovereignty organizations working among Indigenous Maya communities in the Yucatán peninsula, Mexico, and how spirituality is employed as a decolonial tool of resistance. The case study is based on interview, text and video sources. It was found that spirituality plays a major role within the organizations through contextualizing their food sovereignty work in two main ways: through relations to land emphasizing interconnectedness and non-human agency and through associated values of reciprocity and respect, which taken together inform a socio- ecologically just agriculture in contrast to the commodifying and extractive character of industrial agriculture. Hence, spirituality is used as decolonial knowledge inspiring resistance to the coloniality of industrial agriculture and practice, fostering the emergence of a pluriverse in which multiple ways of knowing and being coexist.
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