Campesino-a-Campesino Pedagogy, Peasant Protagonism, and the Spread of Agroecology: A Multi-Site Case Study

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Kerr, Roseann
Campesino-a-Campesino , peasant agriculture , food sovereignty , agroecology , Indigenous peoples , Mexico , pedagogy
As more actors embrace agroecology as an alternative to industrial agriculture, it is important to recognize that the ways in which agroecology are taught and learned have a profound effect on whether or not the spread of agroecology will align with the goals of food sovereignty. Campesino-a-Campesino (CaC), or peasant-to-peasant, is a horizontal, constructivist pedagogy responsible for spreading agroecology among Campesinos/as across Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s. CaC is characterized by knowledge exchange between peers—a process of collective reflection and action through which peasants share agroecological practices and innovative solutions to problems. The purpose of this study was to investigate both how CaC promotes peasant protagonism and what makes CaC a unique catalyst for spreading agroecology. Using critical educational ethnographic methods, this case study analyzed CaC in practice in five communities in Calakmul, Campeche, Mexico, supported by the NGO Fundo Para La Paz (FPP). Through in-depth interviews and member reflections with promoters, facilitators, coordinators and community group members, as well as observations of agroecology workshops, a case was formed to illuminate socio-cultural and socio-political conditions of engagement/disengagement, the motivations of Campesinos/as, and pedagogical tools of CaC which influence the adoption of agroecology practices. The data revealed that these communities were contributing to their food sovereignty by adopting agroecological practices learned through CaC processes. After a year as promoter guides, Indigenous women saw themselves as protagonists in their communities. Guiding principles that fostered a culture of participation countering the hegemony of paternalism included (a) promotion of Indigenous knowledge, languages and culture, (b) a focus on relationship and capacity building, and (c) a gradual transfer of responsibility toward community self-sufficiency. In the transition toward agroecology, hands-on workshops, on-farm exchanges of experience with knowledgeable peers, and promoter guide implementation of practices were important. These results point to CaC’s potential to destabilize the structures of development and agricultural education, and create decolonial action by changing who has the power to create goals and lead discourse. Based on this case study, it is recommended that actors promoting agroecology use CaC pedagogy as a way to foster food sovereignty in Campesino/a communities.
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