Agroecology as a Practice-Based Tool for Peacebuilding in Fragile Environments? Three Stories from Rural Zimbabwe

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    This paper investigates how transformative agroecology may contribute to the critical reframing of social-ecological relationships, and how this might in turn create a foundation for bottom-up peace formation in fragile environments, within which rural communities are often habituated to conditions of control, violence and mistrust that drive social division. Here, we consider the value of social farming in reforging relationships through which social-ecological change may be negotiated and alternative sources of agency and identity may be cultivated in order to transcend entrenched patterns of division. Three case studies are presented, drawing on primary data from participatory action research with farming communities in Zimbabwe that also consider the differential attitudes and experiences of agroecological and conventional farmers. The study finds that, where agroecological farmers were exposed to more plural ways of thinking, being and acting together, levels of autonomy from coercive structures were increasing, as were both a sense of efficacy and optimism to effect social-ecological change. This was particularly pronounced where collective processes to shape physical landscapes were forging bonds of solidarity, reciprocity and trust. In these cases, agroecological farmers were increasingly able to envisage a future together shaped by collective endeavour, evidenced by changing attitudes and relationships with one another and their environment. The paper explores the extent to which farmers in each location were able to instrumentalise resilience and agency for everyday peace, and the variances found according to historical context and local power dynamics that represent barriers to change.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number790
    Number of pages21
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Special issue: Agroecology for the Transition towards Social-Ecological Sustainability

    This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).


    • Agency
    • Agroecology
    • Knowledge
    • Peacebuilding
    • Social capital
    • Transformation
    • Zimbabwe

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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