1 April 2020 2-3pm Bancroft Building 2.07
Title: “Spaces of Agrarian Struggle: The ALBA-TCP and the Politics of Food Sovereignty in Venezuela”, Speaker Rowan Lubbock
Since its creation in 2004, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) has represented a radical alternative to the dominant patterns of regionalism and social development. Covering a range of areas of cooperation – including diplomacy, energy, medicine, education, and agriculture, ALBA has asserted its rejection of market logic and placed a renewed emphasis on progressive government policy in alliance with grassroots power. However, while ALBA has been relatively successful with regards to its social policies, particularly the expansion of medical and educational services to the popular sectors, its approach to agrarian development has encountered a litany of obstacles and tensions. The central contradiction lies in the sharp divergence between ALBA’s radical rhetoric with regards to the transition towards a more participatory-democratic ‘social economy’, and the entrenched presence of top-down decision making and bureaucratic state power. More specifically, the concrete manifestation of ALBA’s food policies all reside within the territory of Venezuela. This picture presents a fundamental puzzle: why has ALBA’s regional policy been “nationalised” under the Venezuelan state? Read through a critical Marxian lens, and drawing upon 12 months of field research, the paper will unpack the contradictory dynamics and social struggles that have marked the life span of ALBA’s food policy, and offer a prognosis on the longevity of this post-hegemonic regional space.
Rowan Lubbock is Lecturer in International Relations and Development at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London. His research centres on the intersections between International Relations, Latin American politics and Critical Agrarian Studies. As well as previously published in the Journal of International Relations and Development, New Political Economy, and Journal of Agrarian Change, Rowan is currently writing a book on the politics of food sovereignty within Venezuela and the Latin American regional institution of the ALBA-TCP, to be published by University of Georgia Press (Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation series).