Thursday, February 15, 2007

La Via Campesina: An Evolving Transnational Social Movement

TWSC 30th Anniversary Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South

Saint Mary's University, Canada

21 February 2007, 2:30-4:00 p.m.
Third World Studies Center

Claiming global and popular representation, Vía Campesina has emerged as a major actor in the current popular transnational struggles against neo-liberalism, demanding accountability from inter-governmental agencies, resisting and opposing corporate control over natural resources and technology, and advocating food sovereignty, among other issues. Focusing on the global campaign for agrarian reform, this presentation hopes to understand the complexities of a transnational social movement. It will look at four broadly distinct but interrelated aspects of Vía Campesina's development, namely: (1) agendas and aims, (2) alliances, rival movements and the question of autonomy, (3) strategies and forms of collective actions, and (4) representativeness and accountability. In each case, the current Vía Campesina situation is presented, positions clarified, dilemmas identified, and challenges put forward.


The Third World Studies Center Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South interrogates the
relations of contention and collective action to democracy in contemporary history. It focuses especially on movements in the South, using a variety of cases of recent national and cross-border mobilization and protest. The series will address the following questions:Are social movements in the South agents of democratization? How do social movements contribute to (or hinder) the democratization process in various spheres (local, regional, and transnational)? How do deepening interstate relations affect social movement politics? What role do Southern social movements play in the wider global political arena? Are social movements in the South always engaged in contentious politics? How do they interact within the boundaries of institutional politics? Given the present historical conjuncture, what lies ahead for social movements in the South?

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