Teaching the territory: agroecological pedagogy and popular movements

  • Nils McCuneEmail author
  • Marlen Sánchez


This contribution traces the parallel development of two distinct approaches to peasant agroecological education: the peasant-to-peasant horizontal method that disseminated across Mesoamerica and the Caribbean beginning in the 1970s, and the political-agroecological training schools of combined consciousness-building and skill-formation that have been at the heart of the educational processes of member organizations of La Via Campesina since the 1990s. Applying a theoretical framework that incorporates territorial struggle, agroecology and popular education, we examine spatial and organizational aspects of each of these models for peasant education and movement-building. Recognizing that the models, their respective contexts, and the dialectical relationships therein have been in constant evolution, we share findings on the movement-place as a territorial system with socio-historical subjectivity, that is, peasant movements as territorially-embedded, collective historical actors. This leads to some conclusions in moving past educational theory that has centered upon individual subjects, and approaching a conception of territory as a subject of learning processes.


Agroecological education Peasant-to-peasant Social movements Pedagogical mediators 



This study would have been impossible without the work, sacrifice and teachings of hundreds of thousands of small farmers who have participated in the peasant-to-peasant movement, as well as the peasant organizations that make up La Via Campesina, including CUC, ATC and ANAP. The authors would like to acknowledge the support and guidance of Faustino Torrez, Peter Rosset, Julia Margarita Trujillo, Rilma Román, Adilén Roque, María Amalia Rodríguez, Leonardo Chirino, Felipe Tomás, María del Rosario Valenzuela Sotomayor, Eric Holt Giménez, Daniel Pascual, Rafael González, Gregorio Chay, Juan Reardon and Margarita Fernández, as well as the invaluable suggestions of Colin Anderson and three anonymous reviewers for improving this manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School for Environment and SustainabilityUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.La Vía Campesina of Central AmericaManaguaNicaragua
  3. 3.Rural Workers’ Association (ATC) NicaraguaManaguaNicaragua

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