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Emotion and Body language in and against the 'liberal' participation. Public speaking of farmer grassroots organizations in the transnational Roundtable on sustainable palm oil

Cheyns E.. 2017. In : Abstract book of the 13th conference of the European Sociological Association. (Un)Making Europe: Capitalism, Solidarities, Subjectivities. Paris : ESA, p. 318-318. ESA 2017. 13, 2017-08-29/2017-09-01, Athènes (Grèce).

This communication relies on a movie sequence from a participative session in the transnational Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).We took the video in a plenary session composed of around 800 participants, mainly European and Asian organisations, debating on sustainability issues to foster a global standard for sustainable palm oil. This sequence shows the moment when an Indonesian farmer took the floor to state very unknown concerns of family farmers and local communities affected by the expansion of palm oil plantations in Indonesia. Although considered important by the small farmers delegation, this public speaking was perceived as a failure by many of the other participants and was disqualified. For European participants, even for European NGO representatives who recognized that the content of the message was appropriate, this public speaking was perceived as ¿too emotional¿. For Asian companies, it was seen as ¿impolite¿. We used this video sequence and other ones showing other participants speaking in plenary sessions (firms, international NGOs, State representatives) in an interactive research. Indonesian farmers participating in the roundtable commented the different selected movie sequences. We also realized interviews with participants commenting the speech of the Indonesian farmer. This work was essential to reveal forms of emotions and body language that are disqualified in the liberal participation promoted in the Roundtable. Strong body emotion of people who reported on violations of their rights and the adverse conditions that they suffer related to their place-based attachments embarrassed non-rooted international community. This latter prefers a smooth body language in a way to avoid confrontation and to compose commonality through detached options of participants, which resulted in the exclusion of farmer and local community' voices.

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