2011-2012 Poverty and Inequality Working Group


"We will not be disappeared": La Vía Campesina and the Power of Imagination

presented by Dr. Annette Desmarais

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Barbie Tootle Room
Ohio Union, Third Floor
1739 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43210

In less than twenty years La Vía Campesina has become one of the world's most significant international agrarian movements. It is active at the local, national, regional and international levels struggling for the rights of millions of peasants, small-sclae farmers, rural women, farm workers and indigenous agrarian communities. La Vía Campesina coalesced in the North and South around common goals: an explicit rejection of the neoliberal model of rural development, an outright refusal to be excluded from agricultural policy development, and a firm determination to work to build a peasant-based, socially-just and ecologically sustainable model of agriculture based on food sovereignty. This presentation will explore the main strategies and collective actions of La Vía Campesina in their efforts to build alternatives to the powerful forces of neo-liberal economic globalization. At the heart of this resistance is a powerful imagination.

Sponsored by CLAS Poverty and Inequality Working Group, The School of Environment and Natural Resources

Food Movements Unite! Strategies to Transform our Food Systems

presented by Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Ohio Staters Inc., Traditions Room
Ohio Union, Second Floor
1739 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43210

Excerpt from the Preface of Food Movements Unite! Strategies to Transform our Food Systems: Whether it was due to growing pauperization, growing inequality, growing unemployment, or growing precariousness, it's only normal that people started resisting, protesting, and organizing around the world. Social movements are by and large still on the defensive, facing the offensive of capital to dismantle whatever they had conquered in the previous decades. But even if perfectly legitimate social movements of protest are growing everywhere, they remain extremely fragmented. What is needed is to move beyond fragmentation and beyond a defensive position into building a wide progressive alliance emboldened by the force of a positive alternative. Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez, Executive Director of Food First, will address the idea that the balance of forces cannot be changed unless these fragmented movements—such as the movements for food sovereignty, food justice, and food democracy—forge a common platform based on some common grounds.

Sponsored by CLAS Poverty and Inequality Working Group, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the School of Environment and Natural Resources

After Cochabamba's Water War: Water, Scarcity, and Injustice in the Heart of Evo's Bolivia

presented by Dr. Amber Wutich

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
038 Townshend Hall
1885 Neil Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210

The "Water War" of 2000 in Cochabamba, Bolivia was widely celebrated as a triumph of impoverished Bolivians over avaricious private water companies. This event also marked a major turning point in Bolivian national politics, and was followed by the election of Evo Morales, a leftist indigenous activist who played an important role in the Water War, as president. Given the victory of the Water War and the broader shift toward policies that prioritize social justice in Bolivia, many assume that water-related scarcity and injustice have disappeared in Cochabamba. In reality, however, the exclusion of Cochabamba's squatter settlements–containing nearly half of the city's population–from the municipal water system has continued largely unabated since the Water War. This lecture examines how Cochabamba's squatters survive in the face of institutional injustice and severe water scarcity, with a particular focus on local commons and reciprocal institutions. It also documents the biocultural costs for squatters, including nutritional impacts, sanitation-related health risks, and emotional distress. The lecture concludes by putting the water scarcity and institutional injustice experienced by Cochabamba's squatters in cross-cultural perspective.