My research project is about exploring, both conceptually and empirically, agroforestry practices in Brazil. Within the conceptual dimension of the research my aim is to uncover the uses of the concept in academic and general discourses––and not only in Brazil. Scholars have insisted that using trees within cultivated landscapes delivers a range of social, ecological as well as economic benefits, such as biodiversity conservation, soil enrichment, air and water quality and carbon sequestration and due to such positive impacts agroforestry appears to have gained legitimacy over the recent decades. But what kind of referents does the term have and toward what types of ends have the concept been harnessed? In empirical terms, I plan to conduct fieldwork in Brazil, mostly in the North and Northeast of the vast country, studying the various forms, methods and practices agroforestry is worked with. I make two fieldwork travels to Brazil in both two years of the project.
My research is part of bigger literature/activity attempting to find alternative models of development, particularly to the ruralities of the Global South, but also with regard to the globe at large. Differently put, this research belongs to the critical agrarian studies that has kept problematizing the state of affairs and the directions the food systems have taken since in the post-war era. It has become evident that modern agriculture with its heavy dependence on fossil fuels, toxic chemicals, onslaught on animals, and expansion of the cultivated area are not sustainable at all due to their insidious impacts on the climate, soil fertility and inequality, to mention some examples. Furthermore, the entire technoscience structure dominated by few agrobusiness giants has long since divorced from any inclusive type of socioeconomic development.
The focus of my research is on agroecological agroforestry practices with which I refer to the various means through which genuinely ecological, socially driven or sustainable intensification can be reached through using trees within pluricultural farming. It implies of reducing the dependence of peasants, small farmers, family farmers or such from the system through reducing the use of externally produced inputs, cultivating the soil ecosystems, shortening the supply chain, ‘nichifying’ the produce etc. I theorize such agroforestry practices as a development strategy that can be transplanted at various policy levels. Agroecological agroforestry can be seen as a natural enemy of the practices related to modern industrial agriculture and the development models that presuppose them.
This research project builds on my earlier research in which I have crafted conceptual understanding of the current environmental predicament that aims to understand how we actually produce environmental changes through the ordinary and how important environmental changes really are in different life-worlds, especially in the Global North: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23251042.2015.1114207. Such a nonideal account attempts to understanding what really goes on in our social lives, what are actually relevant issues in the life-worlds and our societies here and now, rather than prescribing how humans and groups should ideally act. With another essay of the same linage I conceptually clarified what is at stake with the virtualization of the life-worlds: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10746-017-9455-3.