Is food sovereignty a feminist practice? Interrogating the gender dimensions of food sovereignty

Annette Aurélie Desmarais, Canada Research Chair in Human Rights, Social Justice and Food Sovereignty, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (
Rita Calvário, Center of Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal. (

Gender equality/equity is a critical element of the theory, discourse and practice of food sovereignty. Indeed, in this approach “women’s rights are non-negotiable” (Patel 2009). Yet, there is a considerable research gap on the gendered dimensions of food sovereignty (Agarwal 2014; Masson et al. 2017). This session will interrogate the role of food sovereignty in transforming social relations by analyzing if and how food sovereignty — as an on-going process of food system transformation (Schiavoni 2017) and feminist practice (Masson et al. 2017) — helps creates a “deep egalitarianism” (Menser 2008) that confronts unequal power relations, structures and processes, based on sex, race, patriarchy and class.

Continue reading “Is food sovereignty a feminist practice? Interrogating the gender dimensions of food sovereignty”

List of inspirational agroecology videos

A picture is worth a thousand words, but what about videos? Here is a list with some documentaries and other visual sources dealing with agroecology, food and food systems. This list was inspired by a recent question posted by Wolfram Dressler in the Critical Geography Forum. Continue reading “List of inspirational agroecology videos”

Reflections on the Place-Based Food Systems Conference 2018: Making the Case, Making It Happen

by Ciska Ulug

Last week (August 9-10th, 2018), I attended the Place-Based Food Systems: Making the Case, Making It Happen conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. While revamping the food system tends to focus more on “local” and “sustainable”, the highlighting “place-based” acknowledges the importance of our food systems role in the broader movement in creating a more sustainable society. Continue reading “Reflections on the Place-Based Food Systems Conference 2018: Making the Case, Making It Happen”

‘What might an ‘alternative’, agroecological post-Brexit foodscape look like? Exploring opportunities, challenges, evidence and ambition’

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, 28-31 August 2018, Cardiff, UK.

Sponsored by the Food Geographies Working Group (FGWG)

Session convenors:
Luke Owen, Alex Franklin, Donna Udall (Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR), Coventry University)

Since the 2016 referendum outcome to leave the European Union, food and agri-food discussions more broadly have become an important lens for arguments about the future prosperity and sustainability of the UK’s socio-economic and ecological landscape. There have been numerous publications that attempt to spell out recommendations for post-Brexit agricultural policies, yet these are still somewhat ascent rather than comprehensive. As such, there is a need for further multistakeholder dialogue about what a post-Brexit foodscape will – or should – ‘look like’, how it might function, and for whom. Indeed, Brexit has created an opportunity for otherwise peripheral, ‘alternative’ agri-food praxis and policies connected to agroecology and food sovereignty to be more widely understood, and for possibilities of a more sustainable, multi-functional foodscape to be realised following Brexit.

We invite contributions that address the current ‘happenings’ between Brexit and agri-food systems, with a particular interest in ‘alternative’ visions and practices surrounding agroecology and food sovereignty. Submissions with a focus on food policy, transition theory, (community) self-organisation and governance are especially welcome. We seek empirical work to help ground often speculative scenarios and to identify the risks and opportunities of incorporating agroecological praxis into a more sustainable, resilient and successful post-Brexit foodscape.

Full details on the RGS-IBG AC 2018 conference can be found here and information about the RGS-IBG FGWG can be found here.

Enquiries and abstract submission of 250 words (together with a title, up to five keywords and author(s) affiliation and contact details) should be sent to the convenors: Luke Owen (, Alex Franklin ( and Donna Udall ( by 9th of February 2018.

CFP: Food Justice Panel: Critical Race & Ethnicity Network Conference

The Critical Race and Ethnicity Network (CREN) is holding it’s second, annual, one-day conference on Friday 21st October 2016, on the theme of “Intersectional interventions: connecting oppression anywhere with oppression everywhere“. The aim of the day will be to explore the ways in which different racialized, gendered, classed, amongst other oppressions have similar or inter-related causes, and asks us to consider the fragmented nature of interventions within academia/activist movements, and between academia and activism.

On that note, I would like to propose a 60 minute panel (or conference stream with 3 panels) on Food Justice, and invite abstracts on the same.
Topics can include, but are not limited to:
*considering the ways in which projects that are aimed at increasing access to ‘fresh’, ‘healthy’ foods tend to exclude People of Colour (e.g. see Slocum, 2007; Guthman, 2011)
*the tensions between local and Fairtrade movements ; or reflexive considerations on tensions within the local movement (e.g. see DuPuis and Goodman, 2005) or the organic food movement (e.g. see Guthman, 2004)
*ideas around “eating the other”  (hooks, 1992); or how calls to ‘re-engage with food’ lead to increased workloads for women, and often gets shifted to Women of Colour  (e.g. see Szabo, 2011) etc etc.

Should you be interested in participating please submit an abstract to by 18th June 2016.



DuPuis, E. M. and D. Goodman (2005). “Should we go home to eat?: Toward a reflexive politics of localism.” Journal of Rural Studies 21(3): 359-371.

 Goodman, M. K. (2004). “Reading fair trade: Political ecological imaginary and the moral economy of fair trade foods.” Political Geography 23(7): 891-915.

Guthman, J. (2004). Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California, University of California Press.

Guthman, J. (2011). “If They Only Knew” The Unbearable Whiteness of Alternative Food. Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability. A. H. Alkon and J. Agyeman. Cambridge, Mit Press263-281   

hooks, b. (1992). Black looks : race and representation. Boston, MA, Boston, MA : South End Press, 1992.              

Slocum, R. (2007). “Whiteness, space and alternative food practice.” Geoforum 38(3): 520-533.

Szabo, M. (2011). “The Challenges of “Re-engaging with Food“.” Food, Culture & Society 14(4): 547-566

Envisioning the Future of Food Across North-South Divides: Transregional Food Networks and Movements: Berlin Workshop

1-3 December 2016

Venue: Forum Transregionale Studien Berlin, Wallotstraße 14, 14193 Berlin

Convenor: Sarah Ruth Sippel (Universität Leipzig)
Co-convenors: Nicolette Larder (University of New England),
Cornelia Reiher (Freie Universität Berlin) and Felipe Roa-Clavijo (University of Oxford)

While a vital part of our everyday lives, the future of food is insecure: agriculture and food are currently being shaped by the culmination of multiple crises related to new energy policies, financial turmoil, and climatic hazards. Prevailing food insecurity and the question how agriculture and food should be organised within society are at the very heart of food networks and movements, which have been emerging all over the world in recent years. While all aim at developing alternatives to the current food system, research on these networks and movements together with the existing interlinkages, particularly when it comes to North-South divides, rarely are brought together. This workshop aims at addressing these transregional interlinkages and emerging synergies between those actors and groups of people who are building alternative food relationships in different parts of the world.

Today, food networks and movements in various contexts are facing new challenges arising from the increasing complexity of the food system, such as the increasing engagement of financial actors in agrifood. However, they are also making use of new transregional spaces that are offering new possibilities for transregional networking and alliance building. The increasing degree of international connectedness has manifold implications in relation to the spread of knowledge about power structures in global food production, experiences in terms of campaigning and advocation, as well as the exchange of alternative visions of agriculture and food production, such as food sovereignty or how to achieve food justice.

The workshop has three main questions to understand alternative food networks and movements, especially those across North-South divides:

1) What kinds of alternatives to the current food system are being developed in different world regions and what are their visions of agriculture and food? This question is discussed by bringing together empirical insights on food networks and movements from different regional contexts – from Latin America as the ‘cradle’ of the food sovereignty movement, to Japan where consumer movements have become particularly powerful after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, to Australia and Germany where the idea of food sovereignty has more recently been picked up and is being brought into national debates about food.

2) What kinds of transregional synergies are emerging within these contexts, how are transregional alliances being organised, and what are the opportunities and challenges of these interconnections? This question is explored by considering two major topics that have fostered transregional networking and alliances in recent years: the increasing investments in natural resources such as land, on the one hand, and the new round of preferential trade agreements (e.g., TTIP, TPP) challenging food standards, on the other.

3) How can the intersections between these different fields of expertise be used in a fruitful way to improve our understanding of the future of food? This question is addressed by considering the conceptual challenges of studying transregional food networks and movements from interdisciplinary perspectives that combine insights from various disciplines (e.g., sociology, human geography, anthropology) with area studies perspectives and transregional approaches.

The workshop aims at bringing together researchers who will contribute both empirical and analytical insights from different world regions while stressing the transregional synergies and cross-continental inspirations. We thus look for innovative and empirically grounded as well as conceptual contributions. The workshop will further address a broader audience of government officials, representatives of civil society organisations, food practitioners, and activists. Funds will be available to support participants presenting invited talks.

The workshop is part of the strategic cooperation between the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung – Deutsche Geisteswissenschaftliche Institute im Ausland. It will take place at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin from 1 to 3 December 2016. You are invited to submit an abstract of 300 words by 30 April 2016 to sippel [at]


Sarah Ruth Sippel
Universität Leipzig
sippel [at]

PhD opportunity at Lancaster Environment Centre: Can food sovereignty be up-scaled? The scope, limits and politics of community initiatives in the context of global food security

PhD opportunity at Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster Univeristy (UK)
Deadline for Applications: 14 February 2016
Start: October 2016

Info and on-line application:

For further information or informal discussion about the position, please contact G. Bettini
or R. Whittle .

The sustainability of food systems is one of the most pressing global challenges at the intersection of environmental and developmental policy, and has attracted a vast amount of research. Currently, such research falls into two broad camps. On the one hand, there is a large body of work concerned with developing food security at the global scale. This research tends to place a strong emphasis on science and technology “solutions” and the search for top-down interventions in biophysical, agricultural and economic systems. However, recent years have seen the emergence a contrasting body of literature concerned with the development of ‘food sovereignty’. This work, which has strong roots in critical social science, places the emphasis on giving control of food systems back to farmers and communities. Consequently, proposed interventions tend to be low tech, diverse and bottom-up in character. However, while proponents of such approaches tend to emphasise their value in transforming power imbalances within the food system, critics dismiss them because they are often seen to be purely local in scale and thus of limited value for addressing global food insecurity.

The two approaches often talk past each other, and few studies seriously engage with both. With this project you will fill this crucial knowledge gap, combining exciting empirical work with community groups at the cutting edge of action on food sovereignty with in-depth theoretical engagement. The key objective is to assess the potential of community food projects to foster food sovereignty. In particular, you will explore the scope and limitations of their engagement with transnational initiatives, economic processes, policies. To this end, the perspective of polycentric governance will help in understanding processes and entities that cannot be placed in any of the boxes (international, national, regional or local) envisioned by traditional understandings of scale. The aim is thus to generate a better understanding of the scope and limitations of novel forms of action and governance within food systems (with unconventional combinations of private and governmental actors, networks, community groups, etc.) which transnational initiatives bring to life, and of which community engagement is an important ingredient.

The project combines theoretical/conceptual elaboration with qualitative empirical research with community-level groups whose actions are focused on creating food and climate security for their locales (for example, Transition Town initiatives, the Incredible Edibles movement and Sustainable Food Cities groups) AND that engage with transnational groups such as La Via Campesina, The Transition Network and the Slow Food Movement. The choice of the specific case study will be negotiated with the supervisors at the beginning of the project.

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