Solidarity Economy and Agricultural Cooperatives: The Experience of the Brazilian Landless Rural Workers Movement
Keywords:Agricultural Cooperatives, Agroecology, Brazil, Community Economies, Cooperation, Food Studies, MST, Peasant Movements, Social Justice, Solidarity Economy
AbstractBased on field research in southern Brazil, this paper examines successful experiences of encampment, and especially of two agricultural cooperatives of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) as part of the solidarity economy. These co-ops exemplified collective searches for better living conditions to respond to people's needs and hopes, beside and beyond the market economy. The paper thus explores (1) community dynamics and movement-building among MST participants as they interact with one another and are shaped by daily practices in their collective struggle for land access and justice; (2) how they foster alternative imaginaries (vision, hope, projects), forms of production, and social reproduction that nurture greater autonomy, solidarity, cooperation, and democratic participation; and (3) how various forms of cooperation allow MST participants to appropriate, defy and transform dominant norms and practices in their everyday lives. The latter process is crucial for researchers and activists interested in social change since these forces are contributing to opening up spaces that allow the emergence of new norms and values, intertwined with new practices and ways of being in the making, despite existing obstacles and challenges.
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