Theatre methods for food security and sovereignty A Brazilian scenario

Theatre methods for food security and sovereignty A Brazilian scenario
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  Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Journal of Rural Studies  journal homepage: Theatre methods for food security and sovereignty: A Brazilian scenario Juliano Borba a, ∗ , Michelle Bonatti b , Stefan Sieber b , Klaus Müller b a UDESC   –   Santa Catarina State University - CEART-PPGT Av. Madre Benvenuta 2517, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, 88035901, Brazil b  ZALF - the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, Eberswalder Str. 84, 15374, Muncheberg, Germany  A R T I C L E I N F O  Keywords: Food securityFood sovereigntyAgroecologyTheatre for developmentNarrativePedagogical methods A B S T R A C T After years of decline, hunger is again growing. In seeking ways to combat it, Brazil o ff  ers not just a relevantcontext for public policy and programming, but also an important conceptual framework for food and nutritionalsecurity. Socially and politically organized peasants deal directly with the concepts and practices of food se-curity. Crucially, they are active in pursuing a food security de 󿬁 nition that bene 󿬁 ts them. One fundamental civilorganization representing peasants in Brazil is the Landless Workers Movement - MST. Another, working closelywith the MST, is the Borborema Trade Union Pole, which works according to the regional culture of its territory.Those civil organizations have agroecology as their farming methodology. Many theatrical practices use nar-rative as a tool to discuss or promote issues in communities. In general, these practices are diverse and fall underthe concept of Theatre for Development  –  TFD. The article reviews TFD and proposes celebratory community-based theatre as a method for narratives motivating improvements for food insecurity situations. The BorboremaTrade Union Pole formed a community theatre group and created a play entitled Pamonhada in the House of Dona Nene. The play presents a community-based construction of the concept of food security based on therelationships between the concrete experience of the farming families and the local reality of family farming. 1. The context of food security policy in Brazil Throughout its history, Brazil has had a problem with inequality.Since colonial times, when its economy focused on foreign markets, thegap between the rich and the poor has always been stark (Wood et al.,1988; Almeida-Filho et al., 2004). Agriculture, Brazil's main economic driver, was based on latifundia, slavery, and monoculture. The Brazi-lian economy was structured at that point in time to be exclusively aproducer. Brazil supplied the products it had to the internationalmarket, meeting its demands. To achieve this, some owners and en-trepreneurs commandeered the people, using them as workforce(Santilli, 2009; Mazoyer and Roudart, 2010). Ultimately, Brazil evolved, developing an economy based on speculative exploitation of its natural resources, which was unstable in time and space. Parallel tothe agro-export project, there was a small local subsistence economythat sustained peasants (Prado Junior, 1973). Despite the transforma-tions for more than  󿬁 ve centuries, the economy and social structurehave not changed considerably in Brazil. Brazil continues to exploit itsnatural resources through irresponsible and unsustainable management(Codonho, 2014), while low pay and repressive labor laws exploit itspeople. Meanwhile, despite industrialization, agriculture still plays animportant role in the economy (Goncalves et al., 2018).Since 1997, food security has become a major issue in Brazil,involving social mobilization and governmental action. At the 1996World Food Summit in Rome, with the participation of governments,civil society, and private organizations, the Declaration on World FoodSecurity (FAO, 1996) was adopted. Participation at this important eventbrought Brazilian mobilization to the next level of importance.This included the establishment of the Brazilian Forum on Food andNutritional Security (FBSAN) in 1998, a national network of social or-ganizations, researchers, and government technical specialists. Theforum now has more than 100 a ffi liated institutions and was an im-portant supporter of the reestablishment of the National Council forFood and Nutritional Security, CONSEA, by President Lula in 2003. Theforum played an important role in forming the Council's agenda and inlinking it with other networks concerned with food and nutritionalsecurity: land reform,  ‘ solidarity economy, ’  agroecology, indigenouspeople, traditional populations, and so on (CONSEA, 2009;Chmielewska and Souza, 2011).Rocha (2009) points out Brazil started to achieve many of theMillennium Development Goals, and this is widely credited to bold andinnovative government policies backed by new forms of popular par-ticipation in social policy. These achievements are the result of alongstanding process of public intervention and broad social mobili-zation (see Table 1).Brazil included the right to food among the social rights stipulated 19 September 2017; Received in revised form 4 June 2018; Accepted 21 June 2018 ∗ Corresponding author. Admar Gonzaga Road, 1843 Bl, B3-101, Florianópolis, SC, 88034001, Brazil.  E-mail addresses:, (J. Borba). Journal of Rural Studies 62 (2018) 29–390743-0167/ © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.    in its constitution. Law 11.346 of food and nutritional security, sup-ported by then President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on September 15,2006, established a series of measures and actions. Among them wasthe creation of SISAN, 1 a national food and nutritional security system.It has developed a national plan and policy for this area with guidelines,targets, resources, as well as evaluation and monitoring tools composedof integrated actions and programs involving di ff  erent sectors of gov-ernment and society, in the search for su ffi cient and quality food for all(CONSEA, 2009).There are two concepts at the base of the policies related to foodsecurity in Brazil: the right to adequate food and food sovereignty. Theright to adequate food encompasses two indivisible dimensions: (a) theright to be free from hunger and malnutrition, and (b) the right toadequate food, where it is the duty of the public power to respect,protect, promote and provide, in addition to monitoring and evaluatingthe realization of this right, as well as guaranteeing the mechanisms forits enforceability (CONSEA, 2009). The widely accepted World FoodSummit (1996) de 󿬁 nition reinforces the multidimensional nature of food security and includes food access, availability, food use, and sta-bility. At the same time, food sovereignty concerns the right of peoplesto de 󿬁 ne their own policies and strategies for food production, dis-tribution, and consumption. These two conceptual references have beenused in the promotion of sustainable models for family-based produc-tion, in the approximation of food production and consumption, as wellas in valuing the diversity of eating habits (CONSEA, 2009; Lang and Barling, 2012; Bond, 2018). Although is almost consensual that familiar agriculture plays amajor role in national food and nutritional security, 2 there is still adebate about the coexistence of di ff  erent models of agricultural pro-duction, mainly divided in between smallholders and agribusiness. Onthe one hand, there is a narrative about agribusiness gradually takingover small farmers. Supporting this narrative is the argument based onthe marginal economic gains made by small farmers compared toagribusiness (Malagodi, 2017). On the other hand, according toMalagodi (2017),Evidence of the facts shows that the preservation of peasants associal class does not depend on the competition between small andlarge exploitation (Kleinbetrieb versus Gro β betrieb), but representsa permanent situation of the agrarian structure in any capitalistcountry. And, therefore, family-based and peasant-based agricultureis a permanent segment of the agrarian structure; it is assumed thatin any democratic country there must be consistent public policiesfor such agriculture, since all agricultural activity needs credit andpublic policies, and it will not be di ff  erent for peasant and familyfarmers (Malagodi, 2017, 57).From a capitalocentric representation of the economy, family-basedand peasant-based agriculture fail in bringing pro 󿬁 t. It is remarkable,though, that even without pro 󿬁 t they have managed to subsist, and, insome cases, to live with quality of life promoting diversi 󿬁 cation of the Table 1 Brazil food security Timeline. BRAZIL FOOD SECURITY TIMELINE 194019501964197019841985198619931994200320142016Supply programs, school meals and dining halls for workersFood supplement programsPrepara  on of the document ‘Food Security–Proposal for a Policy to Fight Hunger’ by the Ministry of AgricultureCi  zenship Ac  on against Hunger and Poverty andfor Life conducted by civil society.MinimumwageMilitary coup and dictatorshipEnd of militarydictatorshipFirst Na  onal Food and Nutri  on Conference (CNAN)The First Na  onal Conference on Food Security (CNSA).Fernando H. Cardoso is elected and government's priority shi  s from hunger to poverty.Lula assumed the presidency and creates Zero Hunger programand a poli  cal framework against hunger.Ministryof rural development is created .   Poli  calcoup.Ex  nc  onof the Ministry of rural development.Reduc  on fundsto social and rural development programs.FAO reported that Brazil leaved the Hunger map with a reduc  on of hunger to 3%. 1 Through SISAN, government agencies at all levels of government and civil societyorganizations work together to formulate and implement policies and actions to combathunger and promote Food and Nutrition Security, as well as to monitor and evaluate thepopulation's nutritional situation, de 󿬁 ning the rights and duties of public power, family,companies, and society (CAISAN, 2016). 2 According to data from the Agricultural Census of 2006 (IBGE), although familyagriculture is minor in relation to agribusiness agriculture, it can be said that familyagriculture is mainly responsible for guaranteeing the country's food security, since itaccounts for 87% of the national production of cassava, 70% of beans, 46% of corn, 38%of co ff  ee, 34% of rice, 58% of milk, 59% of pigs, 50% of poultry, 30% of cattle, and 21%of wheat. Additionally, according to the Census, it is also the main generator of jobs,comprising 12.3 million workers, corresponding to 74.4% of the total employed in the 󿬁 eld (CONSEA, 2009).  J. Borba et al.  Journal of Rural Studies 62 (2018) 29–39 30  rural economy. With the proper public policy and narratives of possi-bility, family farmers are generating social education about food se-curity through agroecology (Goncalves et al., 2018). Its complexmethod of surviving and coexisting with agribusiness are generating asort of economical practice intelligence that can be read though the lensof diverse economies (Gibson_Graham, 2008), considering the manyways of subsistence transcending strict capitalism. For Gibson_Graham(2008),There is much to be done, showing how these facts (unpaid andvoluntary hours of work set alongside hours of paid work, con-tributions of social versus mainstream enterprises to GDP, etc.) candestabilize the dominant capitalocentric representation of theeconomy. But the world now has places where new facts, generatedby non-hegemonic projects, can survive.Therefore, a narrative struggle for political positions exists. Theposition taken by the Lula government supported this di ff  erentiationand combination between forms of agricultural production by thecreation of two di ff  erent ministries, the Ministry of Agriculture and theMinistry of Agrarian Development. From the start of the Zero Hungerprogram, one action taken was to institute a  󿬁 nancial plan for familyagriculture that would enhance the already existing program PRONAF(National Program for Enhancement of Family Agriculture). This  󿬁 -nancial plan was dedicated exclusively to supporting family agriculturefor food production. Around 60% of these credit operations were for thesupported production by poor rural families. 3 The Program for FoodAcquisition  –  PAA  –  was created according to CONSEA orientation. Oneof its major actions was to link the food o ff  er from family agriculture topublic and governmental demands, like public hospitals, schools,prisons, free food distribution and formation of food stock. Many otheractions were taken with regard to the betterment of rural conditionswith an impact on food and nutritional security, like woman's em-powerment, access to water, socio-biodiversity and traditional knowl-edge protection, (CONSEA, 2009; CONSEA, 2015). March 6 – 8, 2018, Brasilia hosted the National Meeting 5 a + 2 (twoyears after the  󿬁 fth National Conference on Food Security in 2015(CONSEA, 2015)), which brought together several entities and morethan 5000 participants. The hunger scenario in Brazil and in the rest of the world was highlighted and evaluated. Although Brazil left the FAOhunger map in 2014, there is a serious risk it will return due to acombination of factors, including recession, unemployment, corruption,cutbacks in social programs, freezing of social investments, poverty,concentration of wealth, and concentration of land. According to AlanBojanic, representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of theUnited Nations (FAO) in Brazil, world hunger has increased dramati-cally in the last two years and is continuing to increase. In LatinAmerica, more than 2.5 million people starved in 2016. With Brazil'sexperience  󿬁 ghting hunger, and having left the Hunger Map, its parti-cipation in 󿬁 ghting hunger is crucial (Bond, 2018). However, the publicpolicies that took Brazil out of the hunger map are gradually beingreversed. 2. Social movements, food sovereignty, and agroecology Peasants are localized on the weaker side of the inequality gap inBrazil. However, they are critically engaged in pursuing a de 󿬁 nition of food security that bene 󿬁 ts them dealing directly with concepts andpractices of food security and sovereignty socially and politically.Between the organized social movements in Brazil, there are di ff  erentgroups, like the MST - Landless Workers Movement, and the BorboremaTrade Union Pole. While Borborema is regional, based in the State of Paraiba, in north-eastern Brazil, MST is national, organized in 24 states,across the  󿬁 ve regions of the country. Even after settling, families re-main organized with the MST, since the conquest of the land is only the 󿬁 rst step towards the realization of agrarian reform. MST aims agrarianreform and a more just and fraternal society. 4 Although Borborema Trade Union Pole is not part of MST, they havea close relationship, sharing many ideals, concepts, and methods. Theyare in the  󿬁 ght for agrarian reform and betterment of the condition forfamily agriculture. There is an ongoing critical view from these move-ments' perspective about food and health, and it is related to foodproduction and food security. These issues of food security and sover-eignty are complex and involve multiple dimensions, like political,environmental, social, cultural, and economical. There is awarenessabout the changing of feeding and health habits over the last decades,as fresh and native foods are replaced with industrialized ones. Thisprocess of industrialized food and health  󿬁 t an agribusiness model of food production that uses genetically modi 󿬁 ed seeds, pesticides, andgreat areas of production. This cycle involves poisoning, poor feeding,diseases, and chemical medicines, thus resulting in increased pro 󿬁 ts forbig companies that sometimes also control agribusiness, industrializedfood, and chemical pharmaceutics (Ruckert and Gaia, 2014).In opposition to this aforementioned cycle is the right for the peopleto de 󿬁 ne their politics concerning food production and food security,including the political, cultural, social, economical, and environmentaldimensions. In order to protect their ways of production and their foodculture, it is important to consider how it is produced in relation to theenvironment, natural resources, and the people involved. These ideasare at the core of the food sovereignty concept. 5 According to Weiler et al. (2015), a food sovereignty lens helpsidentify how the concentration of corporate power in the food systemhas generated the contemporary health crises that includes chronichunger, the growing prevalence of non-communicable diseases asso-ciated with the spread of unhealthy western diets, as well as the healthimpacts of intensive pesticide use and agro-industrial productiontechnologies on agricultural producers and a ff  ected communities.While it has been tempting for many organizations to simply adopt thelanguage of food sovereignty as a  “ name check, ”  meaningfully bringingfood sovereignty principles to bear on health equity research andpractice nonetheless o ff  ers transformative potential in realizing healthequity through the food system.The production methodology based on agroecology is compatiblewith the concept of food sovereignty. Agroecology 6 is a way out of thepoisoning cycle, transforming in to food sovereignty for the people,according social and civil movements organized by CONSEA, includingthe MST. According to the fourth CONSEA meeting declaration, in2011, agroecology should be the political strategy that promotes foodsecurity for the Brazilian population. It advocates transitioning toagroecology, thus stimulating the networks and initiatives that promote 3 The expansion of PPA allowed it to reach almost two million credit agreements for the2008/2009 harvest, estimating the application of R $ 13 billion (US $ 7.64 billion)(CONSEA, 2009). 4 For more on MST:, Landless-Workers-Movement. 5 According to the Declaration of Nyélény,  ‘ Food sovereignty is a right of peoples tonutritious and culturally appropriate, accessible, sustainably produced and en-vironmentally friendly, and their right to decide their own system and food production.This puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systemsand policies, above the demands of markets and businesses  … . Food sovereignty promotestransparent trade that guarantees a decent income for all people, and consumers ’  rights tocontrol their own food and nutrition. Ensures that the rights of access and management of land, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those whoproduce food. Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and in-equality between men and women, racial groups, social classes and generations'(CONSEA, 2011). 6 According to Altieri (2002), agroecology is a science, a movement, and its practices. Itconcerns sustainable production according from an ecological perspective, which pro-motes local culture, seeds, and environment. It focuses not only the absence of pesticides,which makes it organic, but also on the entire process of production, which includesallowing families to stay in the country and to continue to produce quality and accessiblefood.  J. Borba et al.  Journal of Rural Studies 62 (2018) 29–39 31  it and its tenets: the conservation of traditional and native seeds(landraces), as well as the constitution of local systems of demand,supply, and fair marketing (CONSEA, 2011).At its fourth congress, in 1999, MST decided that it would adoptagroecology as its main model for production and development in ruralsettlements. 7 The approach to this proposal gave the MST the need tobegin a process of transitioning to agroecological precepts in agri-cultural production and environmental management, as well as to takethe discourse surrounding this proposal to its social base. (BottonBarcellos, 2010).Hundreds of di ff  erent initiatives in agroecology have been devel-oped in MST camps and settlements. Among them, seedlings andlandraces, use of syrups, biofertilizers, composting and mulching, re-forestation, contouring, diversi 󿬁 cation of production, green manuring,cultivation in alleys, agroforestry systems, minimum planting, as wellas the use of homeopathy and phytotherapy (Ruckert and Gaia, 2014).Even though Lula's government has presented strategic policies tosupport smallholders, agroecology and food security polices creating aremarkable historical advance, MST, Borborema Union Pole, and otherpeasant organizations still face several challenges. As pointed out bySauer and Mészáros (2017) there is a contradiction between the his-torical support for land reform and agrarian social movements by theWorkers' Party (PT) on the one hand, and the PT's political allianceswith agribusiness on the other, regarding last electoral run. From 2002to 2013 progressive administrations and key government programmeshave only accounted for marginal gains in terms of structural agrarianreform and in some cases setbacks, symbolized by the failure to expandthe expropriation of new land and to settle the landless families on anadequate scale:  “ The collapse of those alliances and 2016's impeach-ment process of President Dilma Rousse ff   marks the end of that cycle,highlighting strategic and policy failures ”  (Sauer and Mészáros, 2017,p. 1, p. 1). 3. The Borborema trade Union Pole Historically, the Borborema agreste has been occupied by small,poor family farmers who produce food for the cities and for its sur-rounding area, predominantly cattle ranching, to the west, and su-garcane monoculture to the east. The region is marked by cycles of highand low peasantry, following the interests of the rural oligarchies tooccupy and abandon land, which itself mirrors the rise and decline of agricultural scale production to large markets (Petersen and Silveira,2016).Borborema is characterized by the existence of a remarkable in-stitutional role of organized civil society, which decisively in 󿬂 uencesdebates and has the capacity to formulate strategic proposals for ter-ritorial development (Petersen and Silveira, 2016; Delgado, 2010). Local resistance has two alternative fronts, according to Delgado(2010):  󿬁 ght for land through agrarian reform; and innovation with afocus on intensifying the use of agricultural land(see Fig. 1).The attempt to build another model of development by theBorborema Trade Union Pole for the region of the agreste of Paraíbabegan through the articulation of two movements: the one of unionrenewal and the agroecological movement. Even without leaving asidethe classic  󿬁 ghting for social security rights, agrarian reform, medicalassistance, etc, Union Pole took the lead in legitimizing and di ff  using asustainable rural development project for the region, with familyagriculture and agroecology as their main foundations (Delgado, 2010).With President Lula, hunger and malnutrition was placed at the core of the national agenda. The Pole was challenged and motivated to for-mulate its own concept of food and nutritional security in order todemonstrate to society as a whole the impact of agroecological in-novations in overcoming structural causes of food insecurity (Almeidaet al., 2010).The Borborema Trade Union Pole, involves di ff  erent groups of set-tlers from 15 municipalities and is composed of farmers taking di ff  erentactions that promote agroecology. 8 The Pole is composed of networks of  Fig. 1.  Image A: Brazil with Paraiba State in Red; Image B: Paraiba State withBorborema Trade Union Pole location in red. (For interpretation of the refer-ences to color in this  󿬁 gure legend, the reader is referred to the Web version of this article.)Source: Image A adapted from B: adapted from 7 According to Botton Barcellos, the perspective of agroecology is introduced in theagenda of the MST after the 3rd National Congress was held in 1995 in Brasilia. From thenon, the MST discourse intensi 󿬁 ed its content in favor of a model of development based onthe principles of sustainability. That same year, the MST became part of the ViaCampesina, whose activities took place prominently in relation to the socio-environ-mental agenda and sought to agglomerate rural social movements in Brazil. From 1999,the year in which the Brazilian section of Via Campesina was formed, socio-environ-mental guidelines began to be more e ff  ectively debated in the repertoire of propositionsand actions of the entities that comprise it, such as the MST, the Movement of DamA ff  ected (MAB), the Small Farmers' Movement (MPA), and the Peasant Women'sMovement (MMC) (Botton Barcellos, 2010). 8 The municipalities that make up the Pole are: Alagoa Nova, Arara, Areial,Casserengue, Esperança, Lagoa Seca, Massaranduba, Matinhas, Montadas, Queimadas,Remígio, São Sebastião de Lagoa de Roça, Solânea (all of the Territory of Borborema),Cabaceiras, Soledade (both of the Territory of Cariri) and Juazeirinho. During the processof forming the Union Pole, the joining of municipalities was gradual, and there werewithdrawals, as in the cases of Campina Grande and Puxinanã. In addition, some  J. Borba et al.  Journal of Rural Studies 62 (2018) 29–39 32  farmers-experimenters. They link a practice and theory of innovation bydisseminating processes of experimentation, and by multiplying ex-change initiatives. Organized from themes and coordinated by com-mittees composed of leaders of the Pole, who are also farmer-experi-menters, these horizontal networks have promoted and disseminatedsyntheses of their concrete accumulations in the technical, methodo-logical, and political dimensions. Based on this process, agroecologywas close to providing a concrete reference for promoting a collectivedevelopment project based on socio-environmental sustainability andcoexistence with the semi-arid (Almeida et al., 2010; Petersen and Silveira, 2016).One of the main di ff  erences between Borborema Trade Union Poleand MST is that for MST the focus is a communal land and work, butthis does not work for many families in the northeast. They want to owntheir land. MST struggled to understand that they should respect pea-sant's autonomy (Perruso et al., 2015). 9 Among the initiatives and innovations promoted by the BorboremaTrade Union Pole, there are 76 community seed banks that directlybene 󿬁 t 3000 families. It is an important example of the capacity of civilsociety organizations to provide technical and socio-organizational so-lutions optimized to address the problems experienced by semi-aridfamily agriculture. The Union Pole has also been promoting the idea of diverse and non-poisonous planting. The group responsible for ecolo-gical crops is increasingly encouraging farmers to use alternative pro-ducts without control and treatment of pests and diseases. Many classeson syrups and biofertilizers have been o ff  ered. At the same time, thePole encourages reforestation by fomenting the production of seedlingsin family and community nurseries as a way to help the land growstronger. For this, the Pole understands, supports, and shares practicesof farmers in recovery, use, and management of the di ff  erent places of the property (Almeida et al., 2010).Throughout these processes, farmers are rescuing seed varieties andorganizing themselves into community seed banks; developing andimplementing innovations in drinking water abstraction as well asstorage and agricultural production; rescuing and improving the man-agement of their backyards vegetables, medicinal, and fruit plants pluspoultry farming; reforesting their properties through systems like livefences, forests, trees in the plantations, and agroforestry systems; andproducing and storing fodder for native plants, and testing and applyinga wide range of natural pesticides and fertilizers in vegetables, fruits,and crops. Families are better prepared to receive rainwater, and valuethe rich local source of biodiversity and knowledge. To ensure that foodis not lacking even during drought, they are storing increasing volumesof water in cisterns, stone tanks and barriers; corn, beans and  󿬂 our insilos, while making sweets and jams for dessert. They are storing fodderand planting native forages so that cattle, goats and sheep continue toproduce milk and meat. Together, these are experiences that providegreater food security for families because they increase the quantity anddiversity of food produced on farms, provide greater resistance todrought, guarantee the stability of production, and,  󿬁 nally, make fa-milies more autonomous since they are based on material resources andknowledge available locally (Almeida et al., 2010). 4. From narratives to alternatives: how arts can help food security Art can organize social and historical situation in a synthetic andsymbolic way. It is no coincidence that classical Greek playwrightswrote dramas about the transition from tribal logic to polis logic, as inAntigone by Sophocles (Cox, 2013). During the industrial revolutionthere was also a clash between the dominant narratives, neglecting thecontradictions of the growing social strati 󿬁 cation and other narrativesreviewing the contradictions and proposing alternatives, like CharlesFourier's phalanstery.There are di ff  erent possibilities of art in the contexts of cultural andsocial change. Since art is a form of active, performative epistemology(Cornago Bernal, 2003), it ampli 󿬁 es the capacities of action and re- 󿬂 ection of those who produce it, at the same time it emits a sophisti-cated symbolic narrative capable of acting intersubjectively.One of the most important points underlying the e ff  ectiveness of thearts in the process of political decisions and social transformations liesin its narrative potential, a principle epistemological theatrical process.On the one hand, narrative is a  󿬁 rst action of the mind, used byartists, theorists, and politicians to produce, manipulate, control, andorganize experiences (Hardy, 1977). Our identity is constructed in athrough narrative (Novitz, 1997). In narrating, we expose our mentaland cultural structures, while the social exchanges involving narrativesare intercultural relations. The relation of otherness is extremely rich,especially when we discover the speci 󿬁 cities and di ff  erences in whatonce seemed familiar.On the other hand, organized life in society happens throughagreements, tacit or declared, that are the result of intersubjectivityrelations. Polis, politics, democracy, market, state, the individual arenarratives assumed as truth collectively (Harari, 2014). Understandingpolitical and social potential of narrative can underpin a comprehen-sion of the arts as regards the transformations necessary for the foodsecurity of peoples, especially those most in need.For centuries, family and community have been a unique supportand protection network. Without family or community, a person wouldface their own luck. Since the industrial revolution, the state andmarket promised to increase happiness through material improvementsand the freedom for each to become an individual, separate from familyand community. The market, in association with the state, generated anintervention in the function of the family and the community. Theirrelevance was weakened by new, ever changing tendencies that replaceold ones. However, in many cases, individuals are exploited by themarket, while states employ their armies, police, justice, and bureau-cracy to persecute individuals, rather than protecting them. States andmarkets composed by alienated individuals can intervene in the lives of their members much more easily than states and markets composed of strong families and communities (Harari, 2014).Culture is historically reproduced in action, since we organizeprojects and give meaning to objects starting from an understanding of cultural order. On the other hand, the contingent circumstances andunusual events do not conform to the cultural meanings attributed tothem by speci 󿬁 c groups. Events are reframed within cultural schemas.It means that we creatively rethink our cultural schemes, and, thus,culture is historically transformed into action (Sahlins, 1985).Narrative and its languages are at the core of the dialectic betweenhistory and culture, because the event is understood by the way it isinterpreted and this happens through language. Even if, as a contingentphenomenon, it has its own forces and reasons, independent of anysymbolic system, the event becomes what is given as interpretation andacquires historical signi 󿬁 cance when appropriated by the culturalscheme. In the dialectic between culture and history, language is themain instrument, as it generates a reading and a meaning (Sahlins,1985).Here we come to the crucial point of narrative as a constructor of reality through its power of interpretation, symbolization, meaning andintersubjective communication. Narrative is vital to the complex (  footnote continued) municipalities joined the Pole not through their union, which opposed their strategy of action, but through associations of family farmers. For this reason, the Union Pole o ffi -cially became known as Union Pole and Associations of Family Agriculture of Borborema,incorporating, in addition to the 16 unions, about 150 community-based associations anda regional organization of ecological farmers (Delgado, 2010). 9 When the organization of Trade Union Pole of Borborema happened in the 1990s,MST had not arrived yet in northeast Brazil. When it arrived, the trade Union Polemembers had to have intense dialogue with MST members because they used to followMST guideline blindly, without understanding the speci 󿬁 cs of the region (Perruso et al.,2015).  J. Borba et al.  Journal of Rural Studies 62 (2018) 29–39 33
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