PhD defence

Emancipation of young agroecological peasants in Zona da Mata, Minas Gerais, Brazil: an identity in-the-making


Intergovernmental organizations and researchers point to agroecology as a pathway to preserve biodiversity, address climate change and achieve the sustainable development goals. Little is known about how young people become engaged in agroecology. Literature shows that autonomy is decisive for young people to start farming. The thesis shows how young people build and alter their relationships with peers, with family, and with nature and culture in popular education on agroecology, and how they, through those relationships, co-produce a form of relational autonomy. This relational autonomy is emancipatory because it enables young people to resignify agroecology as a movement of repeasantization that reworks local culture so that it is more inclusive of different populations, generations and genders, and that fosters an appreciation of co-production and the interconnectedness of humans and nature. By alternating periods of school time and farm time in popular education both students and their parents become engaged in agroecological transformations. The assignments they have to do during the farm time enhance dialogues and practices.