Food geographies ‘in’, ‘of’ and ‘for’ the Anthropocene

Convenors:
Prof Damian Maye (University of Gloucestershire) dmaye@glos.ac.uk;
Dr Ben Coles (University of Leicester) bfc2@leicester.ac.uk;
Prof David Evans (University of Bristol) d.m.evans@bristol.ac.uk

The “Anthropocene” is an important and much-debated concept in physical and environmental geography that has also attracted considerable attention in human geography in recent years (Castree, 2017). At its core, it reflects not just how humans impact on the non-human world but also how human activities fold into earth-surface systems (ibid). Given this burgeoning disciplinary interest in the Anthropocene, there is a surprising lack of critical engagement with the concept in food and rural geography, despite some exceptions (e.g. Beacham, 2018; Sexton, 2018). This is surprising for a number of reasons, not least given the ways in which food and farming are currently implicated in changes to the earth’s biophysical and chemical processes – changes that will likely have significant impacts on not just the availability of food, but on how the relationships between agriculture, food practices and food can be understood. Conceptual risks of conflating the Anthropocene with climate change notwithstanding, agri-food production and consumption is a significant contributor to climate change.

The IPCC (2018) report warns that we have roughly 12 years to transform how we live if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts, which includes changes to how we grow, process and eat food. Recent food system and environmental threshold studies call for radical change too, especially to meat consumption, as well as reductions in food loss and waste (see Springmann et al., 2018). We are also seeing increased media coverage which focuses on the negative impacts of livestock farming on the Earth’s ecological systems, the rise of veganism, and even the possibility of introducing a meat tax, all placed within wider contexts of increased food poverty, austerity politics and social-ecological justice at the planetary scale.

We are, it would seem, ‘living with’ significant food and farming-related ‘environmental troubles’, and Science warns that if current trends are left unchecked these troubles will take us beyond ‘planetary boundaries’, which in turn raises existential questions about the future of the Earth’s bio-physical systems and humanities position within them. Such stark and apocalyptic warnings require urgent critical social science analysis to complement the science by offering, for example, a better understanding of perceptions, behaviours and social practices associated with everyday living and food consumption; strategies to foster more-than-human ethics of care and responsibility; to identify ‘hopeful’ food geographies (cf. Head, 2018), and generative political frameworks to enable sustainable and equitable transitions.

This session thus seeks papers that examine food geographies ‘in’, ‘of’ and ‘for’ the Anthropocene. We welcome papers from food geographers, rural geographers and from across the wider geography discipline that examine, probe, contest, promote and/or energise us to think differently about food systems and more-than-human interactions with the world.

Possible topics could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Conceptualising food geographies of trouble and hope ‘in’, ‘of’ and ‘for’ the Anthropocene
  • Ethics/moralities in/for the Anthropocene
  • A more-than-human ethics of food production and consumption
  • Food and the Anthropocene as Capitalocene
  • Post-carbon food geographies in rural and urban space
  • Geographies of livestock production, meat and meat alternatives in/for Anthropocene
  • Dietary change and the geographies of new food in/for the Anthropocene
  • Food, consumer cultures and the Anthropocene
  • Alternative food networks and diverse food economies
  • Metrics, measurements and food system science in the Anthropocene
  • Strategies, methodologies and interventions that offer ‘hopeful’ perspectives/geographies

Deadline for submitting abstracts is Tuesday 12th February 2019. Please send abstracts up to a maximum of 250 words and proposed titles (clearly stating name, institution, and contact details) to Damian Maye (dmaye@glos.ac.uk), Ben Coles (bfc2@leicester.ac.uk) and David Evans (d.m.evans@bristol.ac.uk).

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