CFP: Agrofood systems: from political ecology to political technology: RGS-IBG London 2016

Convenor: Imogen Bellwood-Howard

Sponsored by the Food Geographies working group and Rural Geography research group

Agrofood studies has evolved from a political economy to a networked perspective that addresses power in a relational fashion, allowing agency to emerge from constellations of social, economic, technological and natural components. Drawing on Actor Network Theory (ANT), this approach attempts to overcome separations between nature, culture and society. ANT emerged from Science and Technology Studies (STS), to which this session relates: it seeks to interrogate the role of technology in agrofood systems. Technologies are not merely material implements, but include interpretations of ways to use these and to perform agrofood systems without them. Issues of power and control are folded into physical objects such as seed, agrochemicals, vehicles and packaging. STS provides language that describes how such technologies are ‘re-scripted’ in diverse social contexts, performing multiple tasks for different actors. This vocabulary permits examination of the recursive co-construction of technology, society and nature. More generally, food systems comprise complex nexuses between humans, animals, plants and technology; rural-urban and development gradients, and production, processing, marketing and consumption.

The session invites papers that consider the technology-politics nexus in agrofood systems. Of particular interest are STS, ANT, technoscience, assemblage and Political Ecology perspectives, but submissions that consider these themes from any theoretical standpoint are welcome.

Please submit abstracts of 250 words to me, Imogen Bellwood-Howard, < ibellwoodh [at]> by 10th February 2015.

I’ll inform presenters by 19th February 2016, when I’ll submit the session. With questions about the session, please contact me. More information about the RGS conference can be found at


Call for Papers: Bringing STS to the Table: Exploring Intersections of Knowledge, Power, and Food Dimensions of Political Ecology

DOPE, Lexington, KY, USA, February 26-27, 2016

Conveners: Gretchen Sneegas (University of Georgia), June Brawner (University of Georgia), and Hannah Burnett (University of Chicago)

Scientific knowledges and alternative epistemologies are embedded in every aspect of social and political life, including that of food. What counts as knowledge, who is considered an expert, and how these effects are disseminated ‘downstream’ are shaped by relations and structures of power. Similarly, food is a domain thoroughly entrenched within our daily existence. By engaging with food on a daily basis, we also engage with the ways in which food is implicated in the production, circulation, and application of different forms of knowledge. Food and agriculture are intimately connected with knowledge production and application around topics such as nutrition, obesity, genetically modified organisms, and agricultural production practices, among others.

How are different knowledges around food and foodways created, disseminated, and applied? This panel will examine the utility of applying STS frameworks to the study of food and agriculture within political ecology. Science and technology studies, or STS, examines “the production of scientific knowledge and technologies within a social (cultural, political) context… [and] the various ways in which science ‘works’ to produce (and circulate) knowledge about the world” (Goldman & Turner, 2011, p. 11). In other words, STS scholars work to show how the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge is a process shaped by social and power relations. Thus, STS deconstructs discourses of scientific “objectivity” and “neutrality” are often used to privilege certain forms of scientific knowledge above others (Haraway, 1988).

STS scholarship has addressed a variety of topics within political ecology of food, such as the microbiopolitics of raw dairy consumption (Paxson, 2008), deconstructing the obesity ‘epidemic’ (Guthman, 2011), or the use of Actor Network Theory in food chain analyses for papaya (Cook et al., 2004) and industrial bagged salad (Stewart, 2011). The organizers of this panel call for continued direct engagement at the intersection of STS frameworks and food studies scholarship. Contributions will illustrate entry points for STS accounts of food and food systems from a variety of angles. Themes can include, but are not limited to:

•The role of knowledge in shaping commodity food chains
•Creation and communication of ‘food scares’
•The links between the production and consumption of knowledge relating to food and foodways
•The construction of food-related controversies such as genetically modified organisms
•Multi-species networks in agrifood systems
•The interplay/discord between agrifood policy, scientific frameworks, and lay expertise
•The role of scientific knowledge in the creation and regulation of food and agricultural policy
•Construction of safety and risk for particular food products and practices
•Public concern around food and food production
•The role of alternative ways of knowing within food systems
•How modes of production shape ideas of locality and environment
•Intersections between foodways and conservation technologies

Please submit an abstract of 250 words or less to Gretchen Sneegas (gsneegas[at], June Brawner (brawner[at], and Hannah Burnett (hburnett[at] no later than Friday, November 6. All applicants will be notified of their participation status with sufficient time for the December 1, 2015 registration deadline.


Cook, I. et al. 2004. “Follow the thing: Papaya.” Antipode 36(4): 642-664.
Goldman, M.J. and M.D. Turner. 2011. “Introduction.” In Goldman, M.J., P. Nadasdy, and M.D. Turner Eds. Knowing Nature: Conversations and the Intersection of Political Ecology and Science Studies.” Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press: 1-23.
Goodman, D. 1999. “Agro-food studies in the ‘age of ecology’: Nature, corporeality, bio-politics.” Sociologia Ruralis 39(1): 17-38.
Guthman, J. 2011. Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Haraway, D. J. 1988. “Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective.” Feminist Studies 14(3): 575-599.
Paxson, H. 2008. Post-Pasteurian cultures: The microbiopolitics of raw‐milk cheese in the United States. Cultural Anthropology 23(1): 15-47.
Stewart, D. 2011. Nature is not guilty: Foodborne illness and the industrial bagged salad. Sociologia Ruralis 51(2): 158-174

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