Cooperatives, Grassroots Development, and Social Change presents examples from Paraguay, Brazil, and Colombia, examining what is necessary for smallholder agricultural cooperatives to support holistic community-based development in peasant communities. Reporting on successes and failures of these cooperative efforts, the contributors offer analyses and strategies for supporting collective grassroots interests. Illustrating how poverty and inequality affect rural people, they reveal how cooperative organizations can support grassroots development strategies while negotiating local contexts of inequality amid the broader context of international markets and global competition.
The contributors explain the key desirable goals from cooperative efforts among smallholder producers. They are to provide access to more secure livelihoods, expand control over basic resources and commodity chains, improve quality of life in rural areas, support community infrastructure, and offer social spaces wherein small farmers can engage politically in transforming their own communities.
The stories in Cooperatives, Grassroots Development, and Social Change reveal immense opportunities and challenges. Although cooperatives have often been framed as alternatives to the global capitalist system, they are neither a panacea nor the hegemonic extension of neoliberal capitalism. Through one of the most thorough cross-country comparisons of cooperatives to date, this volume shows the unfiltered reality of cooperative development in highly stratified societies, with case studies selected specifically because they offer important lessons regarding struggles and strategies for adapting to a changing social, economic, and natural environment.
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Marcela Vasquez-Leon is the director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona, where she is also an associate professor at the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) at the School of Anthropology. She has received many awards and her work has been published in American Anthropologist, Human Organization, Latin American Perspectives, and Global Environmental Change.
Brian J. Burke is an assistant professor in the Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Department at Appalachian State University. His work has appeared in Anthropology News, Journal of Political Ecology, Latin American Perspectives, and Practicing Anthropology.
Timothy J. Finan is a research professor at the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) at the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. His recent work appears in Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions and in many journals, including Global Environmental Change.
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