Department of Global Development Studies

DEPARTMENT OF

Global Development Studies

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  Diana Cordoba

From Coercion to Consent: Postneoliberal politics, oil palm expansion and agrarian transformations in the Brazilian Amazon

Date: Wednesday October 10, 2018
Venue: Kingston Hall, Room 208
Time: 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Speaker: Dr. Diana Cordoba, SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Environmental Studies - University of Victoria
 

Abstract

In 2010, the Workers’ Party (PT) launched the Sustainable Oil Palm Production Program (SPOPP) to support oil palm expansion in the Brazilian Amazon. Moving away from previous neoliberal policies, the PT promised to use state power to reverse historical processes of inequality in rural areas by addressing crucial issues of land titling and land access, social movements’ participation and empowerment, environmental degradation, and resource distribution. Using a political ecology approach, Dr. Córdoba examines PT’s ability to impose its hegemonic project. Drawing upon primary fieldwork data, she shows that the PT, through its strong link with social movements, had a central role in articulating social movements' and agribusiness' contrasting politico-economic agendas and interests and facilitating consent around oil palm monocrop expansion. She argues, however, that the SPOPP intervention ultimately worked to reinforce large-scale production and exclude peasants and popular movements. By promoting the concentration of land ownership and by failing to improve the terms of incorporation of marginalized actors in the oil palm complex, the SPOPP model speaks to the limits of PT’s post-neoliberal reforms in Brazil.