Accepted paper:

Exposing the Worldwide Neoliberal Quest to Undermine Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty: A Case Study From East Timor


Thomas Reuter (University of Melbourne)

Paper short abstract:

The spread of corporate-controlled industrial agriculture is endangering food security around the world. This process is orchestrated by the “aid” and “development” industry and its corporate sponsors, using neoliberal strategies to dispossess rural people under the guise of “legal empowerment.” My example is East Timor.

Paper long abstract:

The global spread of corporate-controlled, petro-chemical and GM dependent industrial agriculture to countries where traditional agriculture-focused economies still dominate is recklessly endangering food security and food sovereignty around the world. It is leaving the world's food supply increasingly in the hands of a few corporations and forcing hundreds of millions of people off their land and into urban poverty. This process is directed by the international "aid" and "development" industry and its corporate sponsors, using Hernando de Soto's sinister strategies for the dispossession of rural populations under the guise of "legal empowerment." At the same time, our knowledge of more appropriate, sustainable ways of living on the land is eroded because such development tactics also destroy the local communities that are the custodians of culturally diverse knowledge. This paper illustrates these processes of dispossession and cultural destruction through an analysis of the corporate politics of land, water and food in East Timor.

panel PE43
Averting a global environmental collapse: the role of anthropology and local knowledge (WCAA panel)