UNMAKING: a research programme on the disruption of capitalism in societal transformation to sustainability


New paper: Selective, reciprocal and quiet: lessons from rural queer empowerment in community-supported agriculture

Raj, G. (in press). Selective, reciprocal and quiet: Lessons from rural queer empowerment in community-supported agriculture. Agriculture and Human Values.


Abstract. Rural queer studies, viewed through the lens of relational agriculture, offer critiques of heteropatriarchal norms in farming and highlight strategies used by queer farmers to manoeuvre discrimination and thrive in rural areas. This paper responds to recent calls for further scrutiny of the experiences of gender and sexually underrepresented groups in community-supported agriculture (CSA). It investigates the empowerment of rural queer people in CSA Guadiana, South Portugal, through the experiences of 12 queer members. I collected data through participant observation, semi-structured interviews and a focus group and analysed them through open coding, followed by focused coding. Results indicate that CSA Guadiana, despite not originally designed for this purpose, facilitates various forms of empowerment and active engagement among queer members, particularly influenced by the leadership of queer producers and recurrent gatherings in queer-owned farmland. Three key lessons of queer empowerment in CSA Guadiana emerge from the analysis and contribute to debates on the politics of recognition, queer community action and visibility in the rural context: (i) self-confidence to perform queerness may be restricted to a selective rural community; (ii) partnerships between producers and co-producers may enable reciprocal queer empowerment; and (iii) queer leadership in agri-food community action may quietly represent gender and sexual diversity in the countryside. These findings offer the rural queer literature novel insights into the complexities, contradictions and limitations of empowerment experienced by queer farmers, artisanal food producers and consumers in a rural CSA.