Earthcare Fieldcast – a fieldcast about struggles for ecology and care

by Manuela Zechner and Bue Rübner Hansen

As we are sliding from crises of social reproduction into crises of planetary ecology, this podcast looks at our collective struggles for existence and care. From agroecology, feminist strikes and climate justice to care commons and movement infrastructures — this fieldcast tunes into ways of building autonomy and interdependence at the same time.

We listen in to the life-sustaining backwaters that produce our food, reproduce our bodies and fight to defend our common worlds and singular territories. Those are the real-but-invisible frontlines of our struggles for a desirable world — one that can hold us all and one we can hold dear. A world that allows us to mind our interdependencies and look after one another, as well as to build forms of collective power.

In this fieldcast, we learn about world-making from those who care for territories and ecosystems, look after bodies and communities, build movement infrastructures, and blockade, occupy and strike for earth and care.. We listen into tactics and strategies in the struggle against the destruction of social and natural ecologies, and learn about infrastructures and networks that enable movements to learn, care and resist.

Episode 1: What is Earthcare?

In this first episode, we present the twin concepts of earthcare and fieldcasting in two short conversations with environmental justice scholar Stefania Barca and cooperative farmworker Tobias at Ochsenherz, Austria.

We speak with Stefania Barca about the concept of “earthcare labour” which she explores in her recent book The Forces of Reproduction, and we discuss definitions and avenues for thinking about social reproduction and environmental struggles. What is earthcare labour? Who are its subjects and workers? And what perspectives for organizing and alliances does it open — both transversally and translocally?

For our second conversation we’re joined by Tobias, a worker of the Ochsenherz solidarity farm outside Vienna in Austria. Recorded in the farm’s vegetable fields, it explores community supported agriculture and its perspectives on transformation and social reproduction.

This first episode sets us up nicely for what’s coming up next in our future shows: reports and reflections on agroecology and La Via Campesina in Europe, feminist campesina pedagogies, feminist & climate strikes, as well as analyses and fieldcasts from the frontlines of climate struggle and infrastructural blockades.

Episode 2: Peasant Farmers Organization and Land in Romania: Ecoruralis

In this episode we speak to Attila Szocs of Ecoruralis, a 14,000 member-strong peasant farmer organization in Romania that is part of La Via Campesina Europe. The first part of this episode explores the work of Ecoruralis at the community level: their seed house, peasant-to-peasant knowledge exchanges, local production and distribution networks, Ecoruralis’ approach to agroecology and organization, and the horizon for strengthening rural feminism.

The second part of this episode is dedicated to the broader dynamics of land grabs and how they affect peasants, triggering dynamics of displacement and migration as well as campaigns against the financialization of land and for the defense of agricultural land. We learn of Ecoruralis’ ways of slowly building collective power and amplifying the voice of peasants, in the complex historical and social context of Romania, rich in peasant knowledge and practice.

Episode 3: Feminist Organizing across Migrant Agricultural and Care Work

This episode features conversations with the Austrian Sezonieri and Swiss Widerstand am Tellerrand campaigns for the rights of seasonal agricultural workers. How to organize with the migrant workers who do life-sustaining labors on temporary regimes? How can unions be pushed to take this seriously?

This is the first episode in a two-part series that focuses on the connections between migrant labor struggles in agriculture and care: working conditions, strategies and networks of organizing and struggle and the kinds of feminist pedagogies that make this organizing so powerful. Care and agriculture have been deemed “essential” work and much applauded during the pandemic, yet continue to be part of highly exploitative, alienated and toxic labor and production regimes.

In this episode, we trace the strengths, alliances and feminist underpinnings of two campaigns that struggle for better conditions in industrial agriculture, building synergies with agroecology and feminism.

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Episode 4: Jornaleras en lucha: antiracist & feminist social syndicalism

In this episode we hear about the antiracist and feminist self-organization and grassroots-union-building of the Jornaleras de Huelva en Lucha (“Huelva women day labourers in struggle”). They are women working in industrial berry production in southern Spain who push for better conditions, social rights and ecological transition. They build vital mutual aid, solidarity and alliances with other struggles, in the face of unions who don’t recognize them, and bosses who exploit them as workers, women and migrants. How can we imagine and push for ecosocial transition that develops a different relation to land, labour and community? Why and how are labour struggles in industrial agriculture important for our imaginatires of agroecological futures? Why can’t we do without alliances between anticacism, feminism and ecology? Anna and Nahat from the Jornaleras en Lucha have a lot to report. We translated their interview from Spanish into English for this episode.

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Episode 5: Genuine and clandestine – food, peasants, and social centers in Italy

In this episode we speak to Andrea Ghelfi from the Italian food sovereignty network Genuino Clandestino. What does the Italian peasant movement have to do with urban social centres and migration struggles? Why do peasants insist on selling “genuine, but clandestine food” in Italy, and what does it mean to reinvent rural life and the peasantry as a community of practice? Andrea gives us insights into the new peasantry in Italy and its struggle for the right to public space, for commons and agroecology. We also discuss the question of building a political force capable of transforming laws and institutions, and the situation of the ecology and climate movements in Italy.

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Episode 6: Foodproduction & the City (Barcelona)

In this episode we speak with Amaranta Herrero, an ecofeminist sociologist and agricultural engineer who is currently coordinator of the Barcelona 2030 Sustainable Food Strategy and works for the Barcelona Strategic Metropolitan Plan of Barcelona City Council. Cities are where vast amounts of food are consumed and discarded, but how may we think food production and distribution from the viewpoint of the city? Could predatory urban food consumption be transformed towards food sovereignty models, that articulate the city and peri-urban spaces anew? What’s the link between cities, food and climate? And what’s that debate between antispeciesist and pastoralist ecofeminists in Catalunya and Spain? Those are some of the questions Amaranta talks about in this episode, as we switch between grassroots and municipal institutional perspectives.

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Episode 7: Peasant Feminism and Workers Organising in the US/MX Borderlands

This episode features a conversation with Rosemary Rojas, from the Border Agricultural Workers Project and The Border Women’s Project in El Paso, Texas. Since 1994, the project has supported and assisted agricultural workers crossing the US/Mexico border and their families, and is part of La Via Campesina. We speak to Rosemary about workers and feminist struggles in the region, and the efforts to ensure safe working conditions during the pandemic.

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Episode 8: Longomaï, feminist soundings of agrarian internationalism

This episode features an extended conversation with feminist Johanna Bouchardeau, veteran activist of Longomaï and founding member of the feminist library and space Agate, armoise et salamandre – corps et politique in Fourcalquier. This is a storytelling kind of episode – tune into Johannas voice and enjoy stories of the founding of Longomaï in the 70s, how it linked the militant underground with local peasant struggles, the many dimensions of its internationalist work, feminist challenges and perspectives, and much more. It comes in three parts: (1) the foundings of Longomaï, politicization post 68, experiences of arrival in the commune (2) politics from the margins, making allies with peasants, the role of feasts and festivals (3) Longomaï’s internationalism in Costa Rica, and the path from the 1970s to the present as seen through a (rural) feminist lens.

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Episode 9: Ending Europe’s Gas Addiction

Fossil gas is an urgent example of the tension between social and climate issues. While climate scientists point out the use of methane gas must be phased out, millions of people are suffering from rising gas prices. How does Russia’s war on Ukraine and Germany’s suspension of the NordStream 2 pipeline from Russia change this terrain? And is it possible to transition away from gas without an explosion in energy poverty – or a planned decrease in energy use?

In this episode we begin to seek answers to these questions, in conversation with Simon Pirani, Honorary Professor at the University of Durham, former trade union journalist, and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. The episode is co-hosted and prepared in collaboration with Oliver Bugge Hunt, who is researching the politics of pipelines at the University of Copenhagen, and supporting struggles against the Baltic Pipeline in Denmark.

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Illustration: Many thanks to Amanda Priebe (copyright)