The network will go beyond prevailing paradigms on agricultural frontiers and socio-cultural changes in the Amazon. New alterities and emerging identities in the region call for a better understanding of the socio-cultural and intersubjective uniqueness of agricultural frontiers in order to deal with economic, ecological and social dilemmas in search for a more sustainable development. Several bodies of literature point to the need for a renewed emphasis on the social issues that underlie sustainability in agri-food systems:
- Emerging cultures and interpersonal subjectivities – The first academic stream recognises that culture is not as a homogeneous entity or a container comprehending either meanings or people (depending on one’s theoretical preference), but rather as an internally coherent collection of communicatory processes and resources that enable, constitute, and organise the sociality and socialisation of different groups of stakeholders. By conceiving culture from its margins, from liminal socialities, from hybridities and in-betweens (or, as it were, through frontier-thinking), the network will contribute to the reflexive project of enlightening ourselves about—and thus relativize—its basic, often tacit, assumptions.
- The agricultural frontier as a socio-ecological and dynamic territory – The second intellection pillar of the proposed network is the politico-ecological significance of agri-food, which has come into sharp focus in recent years as major uncertainties exist around the sustainability of production and distribution systems, as well as a focus on issues of justice and equity of conventional agricultural systems. The political ecology of agri-food systems is a growing field of investigation, as it integrates different approaches for the study of economic development and environmental change, combining historico-geographical accounts with political and socio-cultural factors. Work done in the Amazon demonstrates that regional development and agriculture intensification trends are translated into values and practices at the local level, which affect political mobilisation and the ability of farmers to adopt technologies and respond to pressures.
- Food Sovereignty – The network is inspired by the fast growing literature, based on trans-disciplinary theoretical and empirical work, on food sovereignty and environmental justice. In particular, the recognition of food sovereignty (i.e. the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food) as a socio-spatial relation, whose conceptualisation includes the rights of nations, peoples, regions and states to craft agrarian policy according to their culture and multiple values.