Rural Transformation in Latin America's Changing Climate

Abstract / Resumen / Resumo

Despite dramatic changes in rural Latin America over the past century that often excluded rural smallholders, peasants, and indigenous peoples, these same populations continue to assert agency and initiate solutions to meet their own needs and goals. This special issue focuses on transformations in rural Latin America, examining how marginalized and rural populations both already are and can increasingly become key actors in generating emancipatory transformations within the context of a changing climate. Acknowledging climate change is just part of a “tsunami of change” that rural people are facing, these papers explore how climate and other challenges are negotiated on the ground. In this introduction, we focus on transformation as a concept, suggesting that it provides an important conceptual tool with which to integrate emancipatory politics into these multiple processes of change. This introduction draws out some considerations for emancipatory transformation. We suggest that climate change is, in some ways, a red herring, drawing attention away from the ways in which vulnerabilities are produced in particular spatio-temporal contexts. In addition, we suggest that transformations should be considered as hybrid, multiple, and intersectional; a static or monolithic vision of transformation belies the messy realities that rural people face in their everyday lives.