Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Tom A. Perreault


agroecology, campesino, gender, industrial agriculture, Paraguay, social movements

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


As plantations of mono-cropped cash crops continue to expand globally, small farmers and peasants continue to make out a living at the edges of plantations. Though it draws on long histories of traditional farming, agroecology emerged as alternative set of agricultural practices to counter industrial agriculture in the 1990s. It encapsulates both the diversity of traditional agricultural systems and the systematization of these practices, making it a response of campesinos (peasants) to plantation expansion. In Paraguay, agroecology has been taken up by several campesino social movements, including the women’s and indigenous movement known as Conamuri. For twenty years, Conamuri has advocated for agroecology as a means of both protecting campesino livelihoods and addressing power inequities along gendered lines. By looking at the ways Conamuri participants practice and experience agroecology, I argue that these movements are shaped by multiple relations of power which condition the possibilities and limitations of engaging in agroecological practices. Using ethnographic and archival research, this thesis explores two of Conamuri’s major projects – the National Seed Campaign and a yerba mate co-operative. The ways agroecology is practiced and experienced by Conamuri participants reveals both the potential and limitations of agroecology for feminist organizing. The fragility of campesino lives at the edge of plantations illustrates that agroecology as an alternative to industrial agriculture and means of addressing gendered inequalities remains fraught.


Open Access



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