[-empyre-] Introducing a guest, Antonio Roman-Alcala

Antonio Roman-Alcala antidogmatist at gmail.com
Fri Oct 6 02:41:39 AEDT 2017

Hello all, and thanks to the other contributors, and to Margaretha for
asking me to contribute.

In general, I’m interested in these same questions and issues and have
tried mostly to develop relational human-centered work (a.k.a.
“organizing”) to address them. I’m also interested in doing this across
geographical scales, without reifying one scale as the only or proper space
for engagement. Thus I appreciate Valentine’s concern for the concrete
question of “how to practice relating to the communities of more distant
soil”, and offer some recent experiences that may relate.

I was privileged to be a delegate to the 7th International Conference of La
Vía Campesina this past July. For those who aren’t familiar, LVC is the
world’s largest social movement of food producers, including ‘peasants’,
indigenous groups, fishers, and ‘family’ farmers, and the conference is its
preeminent decision-making space. The movement is a heterogeneous
agglomeration with a distinctive politics and hybrid cosmovision.

Some observers have proposed that LVC’s politics and cosmovision – founded
on twin concepts of agroecology and food sovereignty – offers a new vision
for modernity. That vision is fundamentally about dismantling the
nature-society dichotomy, as the process of food production embedded in
place and in longstanding (yet dynamic) culture brings to the fore
immediate, physical and spiritual interrogations of the (false) division
between human and non-human natures. Jason Moore and others have argued
this division has underpinned the extractive period of the Capitalocene,
and I would concur.

My experience at the LVC conference showed me an imperfect but inspiring
process of dismantling that divide, within our ‘local’ communities and
between them, as an ever-expanding circle of solidarious relationships.
Agroecology serves LVC – and can serve others, perhaps – as a means to
build human-serving agroecosystems that are also constitutive of
human/nonhuman alliances.

Simultaneously interpreted between 13 or more languages, the conversations
amongst 500 delegates from 80 countries revolved around ending capitalism,
advancing (human) justice and the rights of nature, and defending
indigenous and campesino ways of life under threat. The conversations
advanced an agenda and strategy for the movement, but equally they offered
spaces of encounter, of simple mutual listening.

Combined with the ‘mystica’ (an LVC ritual of sharing of our different
(rural) cultures in song, dance, theater and music), the ostensibly
political direction of the conversations to me seemed at its core to be
about “relating to the communities of more distant soil”, as a precondition
for developing a powerful and effective oppositional movement to the
structural violence of capitalist modernity.

I will close here, so as not to go on too long, by arguing for seeing the
slow and concrete building of shared affinity, solidarity and (political)
alignment as key tasks for creating a more-than-human post-Capitalocene.
While we may not yet have the volunteer interpretation force necessary to
bring our non-human allies into our human-centered conversations, if we are
building up from communities of practice – whose lives and worldviews are
steeped in an everyday co-construction of life with non-human allies – a
new politics and vision, and organization to bring these about, I am
confident that we will be on a better path towards healing.

Thank you for listening,


On Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 6:21 AM, margaretha haughwout <
margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Greetings -empyre- soft_skinned_space,
> I'm so happy to introduce Antonio Roman-Alcalá, a friend who is active in
> agroecology, solidarity movements, and urban policy. He hails from the San
> Francisco Bay Area, where I've been inspired by a number of his projects.
> Not only is he an incredible organizer, but he is also a great cultivator
> of multispecies relationships, with a great wealth of knowledge. Antonio
> has generously agreed to write in about agroecology, his work, and give us
> a report back from his attendance at Via Campesina this summer.
> Antonio Roman-Alcalá
> Antonio Roman-Alcalá is an educator, researcher, writer, and organizer
> based in Berkeley, California who has worked for just sustainable food and
> political systems for the past 15 years. Antonio co-founded San Francisco’s
> Alemany Farm http://www.alemanyfarm.org/, the San Francisco Urban
> Agriculture Alliance http://www.sfuaa.org/, and the California Food
> Policy Council http://www.rootsofchange.org/who-we-are/networks/
> california-food-policy-council/, and his 2010 documentary film, In Search
> of Good Food http://www.insearchofgoodfood.org/, can be viewed free
> online. He holds a BA from UC Berkeley, and an MA from ISS in The Hague.
> Currently, Antonio maintains the blog antidogmatist.com
> http://www.antidogmatist.com/, teaches with the Urban Permaculture
> Institute http://www.upisf.com/ and at UC Santa Cruz, conducts
> activist-scholar research https://iss.academia.edu/AntonioRomanAlcala,
> and leads the North American Agroecology Organizing Project. He is also in
> search of new land to farm – a tough prospect in the urbanized and
> gentrified San Francisco Bay Area!
> Warmly,
> -Margaretha
> --
> beforebefore.net
> guerrillagrafters.org
> coastalreadinggroup.com
> --
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

Antonio Roman-Alcalá, MA
Thinker, Writer, Doer
+1 (415) 571 6660

recent peer-reviewed articles:
Looking to food sovereignty movements for post-growth theory
Conceptualizing components, conditions, and trajectories of food
sovereignty's 'sovereignty'
<http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01436597.2016.1142366> (2016)
Broadening the land question in food sovereignty to Northern settings: the
case of Occupy the Farm
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