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New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Archive for the ‘Devon G. Pena’

Why I Didn’t March for Science

April 26, 2017 By: NCVeditor Category: Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy

Whose Interests Are Being Served? 

by Devon G. Peña

I consider myself an “ethno-scientist.” The methods and practices I follow in the fields of agroecology, ethnoecology, and related areas reflect my grounding in millennia of indigenous knowledge and study of ecological processes in the human-nature interrelationship. The two cultures divide that C. P. Snow lamented because it separates the humanities from the natural sciences remains a central concern for me as a practitioner of community-based collaborative and interdisciplinary research.

Yet, I did not participate in the March for Science. And it is not because I am anti-science. I am against continued widespread reductionism of and in science (e.g., the geneticization of all phenomena); I am against continued service of scientists in the capitalist control of knowledge production and the deployment of technologies that place our health, safety, and well-being at higher risk. I am certain many of the scientists who marched will feel the same way; but this is a minority worldview. (more…)

Revolutions Happen

April 25, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy

On the Crisis of Neoliberalism and the Alternative of the Common

by Devon G. Peña

Revolutions happen. One has already started though many people are yet to recognize it. But they may already be participating in it and helping to bring alterNative[1] futures forward. The resurgence of the common is the revolution quietly unfolding around us and through each of our relations and actions.

Here, I explore the enactment of a new social revolution the multitude (a.k.a. the 99%) is creating to ‘sublate’ (aufheben)[2] neoliberal capitalism in the spaces of direct material production and bio-politics, qua reproduction. The resurgence of the common is the underlying force driving a largely subaltern and protean process of revolutionary change.

It is through the agency of collaborative networks and their spaces of autonomy that we are disrupting the empire of the commodity form and threatening the stability and long-term survival of the neoliberal state of economic exception (Negri 2008). (more…)

Destabilizing Power

April 14, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Devon G. Pena, Politics

Student Perspectives on the Necessity of Ethnic Studies

moderated by Devon G. Peña

{Moderator’s Note: We are presenting selected blog posts written by students in a winter quarter (2014) course, “Introduction to Chicana/o Studies” (CHSTU 101 that just completed meetings at the University of Washington. My graduate assistant Victor Rodríguez pre-selected the blogs and I did final copy-editing and formatting but the ideas and representations made here were entirely the result of the eight weeks of group research activities conducted by these young students. When we ask first- and second-year students to perform at this higher level of independent inquiry and critical thinking by asking them to engage in collaborative research and writing, we are actually revealing their capacity for a genuine love of learning that introduces them to diverse methods of inquiry and idea testing. When this happens, all is well in the classroom and we can feel a bit more confident that they will be better prepared to engage the prospects for democracy toward more just, equitable, and sustainable future. (more…)

More than a Trend

March 31, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Ecology

Urban Agriculture in Mexico City: Healthy and Necessary

by Devon G. Peña

The Colhua Mexica (Aztec) twin island cities of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco were filled with urban farms, home kitchen gardens, fish-stocked ponds, and aviaries. Two large lakes south of the cities were filled with highly productive floating gardens known aschinampas. These ancient Mesoamerican city-states were basically food self-sufficient. The conquest destroyed most of these cultural ecological landscapes and built Mexico City with the rubble of demolished temples, schools, colleges, homes, and other buildings. Mexico City has never been able to reproduce this ideal condition of food self-sufficiency and instead basically sucks the energy out of the Mexican countryside and — ever since NAFTA — from fresh produce and processed food imported or manufactured with ingredients from the U.S. and other countries. (more…)

Strangers in a Strange Land

November 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Family, Politics

Recent Study Focuses Attention on Deportees

by Devon G. Peña

While the Obama Administration continues to make news by breaking the record number of deportations, the U.S. and Mexican publics actually know very little about the demographic background, socioeconomic status, and living conditions of the deportees. I just returned from a lecture tour to San Diego and what I learned is very troubling.

It has been infuriating to witness the unfolding of the Obama Administration’s deportation policies, which have been driven by a monthly quota system established back in 2009 and designed to serve the demands of private correctional and prison corporations for a steady stream of bodies to fill the 34,000 beds in the nondescript and semi-secret detention centers built across the country since the end of the Bush II years. We first reported on this activity in October 2010 — see Detaining Profits — and will revisit the privatization of prison and detention institutions in a forthcoming post. (more…)

Saving Seeds

October 18, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Politics

Free-Market Fundamentalism versus Food Democracy

by Devon G. Peña

People frequently ask me why I save seeds. I reply, “Because I want my corn to dance.”

When I am not teaching at the University of Washington, I work on a 200-acre flood-irrigated farm that also serves as the home for my family’s foundation, The Acequia Institute. We run the farm as an almunyah, which is essentially a private, non-profit “agricultural experiment station”. We serve acequia farmers who are among the oldest family farms in the United States, dating back to well before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1598.

As an experiment station we take our business of preserving and protecting plant genetic resources very seriously. Without the diversity of seeds developed by native farmers, the traditions of sustainable agriculture as we know it today would not exist. (more…)

Driving Reform

October 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Politics

Does California Legislation Signal a Shift in Immigration Policies?

by Devon G. Peña

Given the reactionary patterns of the past five years, in which states like Arizona (SB1070) and Alabama (HB54) gave us atrociously anti-immigrant laws, it is with a sigh of relief that we observe legislation signed recently by California Governor Jerry Brown that will allow people living in the state sans proper documentation to receive a permit to drive legally in California.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Governor Brown explained: “This is only the first step. When a million people without their documents drive legally with respect to the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice. No longer are undocumented people in the shadows, they are alive and well and respected in the state of California.” (more…)