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Contesting the Dominant Narrative of Global Value Chains

Governance
Social Movements
Policy Change
Power
Nora McKeon
University of Rome 3 and International University College, Turin
Nora McKeon
University of Rome 3 and International University College, Turin

Abstract

Agri-food relations offer rich opportunities to study the interactions between material and discursive components of power and among transcalar formal and informal mechanisms and practices through which change can be promoted. The multiform dispossession of rural livelihoods underway today is “legitimated” by the dominant discourse of The (“free”) Market and corporation-led global value chains as the ineluctable modality for organizing food provision world-wide. The agri-food universe is home to a countermovement that is not only contesting the injustice and unsustainability of the currently dominant global food system but is also constructing alternative practices. Given the difficulty of attacking the material bases of power structures head-on, changing the terms of the discourse and generating norms that defend peoples’ rights is an important component of their strategy. This paper discusses how ideational changes are being promoted by rural social movements around the reality of markets and global value chains in a global policy forum which is unique in the voice that it affords for movements directly representing those most affected by the issues under discussion, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). It will focus in particular on policy recommendations regarding ‘Connecting Smallholder to Markets’ adopted by the CFS plenary in October 2016 and the strategy that enabled the movements to achieve a substantial proportion of their objectives. It will also look at how the peasant movement in West Africa is seeking to apply these recommendations to policy processes underway in their region, integrating them into their ongoing evidence-collecting and advocacy efforts.