Alternative agriculture, the vernacular, and the MST: Re-creating subsistence as the sustainable development of human rights

Michael Jahi Chappell

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    The question of how to provide for so-called “sustainable development” is increasingly coming up against similar questions of how to address the global problems of climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental toxification and rapid depletion of natural resources. Despite commitments from world governments to halving the number of hungry in the world by 2015, the number of acutely malnourished people rose past 1 billion during the 2009 food crisis, wiping out much of the modest progress of the past decades, and not including the continuing plight of the 2-3 billion humans suffering from micronutrient deficiencies (“Hidden Hunger”). Even amidst worldwide production sufficient to feed the present and likely future global population, the focus of governmental rhetoric and much of academic discourse remains on production and yield, even among many environmentalists and ecologists who look to further intensification and “land sparing” to generate space for sustainable agricultural development. In contrast, in the present work, I propose an approach to sustainable development focusing on equality rather than production, the provision of human rights rather than economic development, and the integration of agroecological agricultural methods with subsistence and locally-focused agriculture rather than export and cash crops. These ideas will be examined specifically through a case-study of the literature dealing with Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers’ Movement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSubsistence under Capitalism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
    EditorsJames Murton, Dean Bavington, Carly Dokis
    Place of PublicationMontreal, Quebec
    PublisherMcGill-Queen's University Press
    Number of pages44
    ISBN (Print)9780773547001
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Publication series

    NameRural, Wildland and Resource Studies Series

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