THE VITALITY OF EVERYDAY FOOD

Food ag and social change blog.png

This was originally posted on ILEIA‘s website. It was written by  Stephen SherwoodMyriam Paredes and Alberto Arce who have edited a new book ‘Agriculture, Food, and Social Change: The Everyday Vitality of Latin America’ (UK: Routledge/Earthscan Press). I have co-authored a chapter in this book that I will summarise in a later post.


A great deal of energy has been invested in attempts to influence the thinking in science and government on the problems of industrial food and the benefits of agroecology and food sovereignty. Meanwhile, people everywhere take responsibility for creating the changes they want to see through daily food practices in their families, neighbourhoods and social networks. In addition to organising for ‘resistance’, we call for greater attention to the latent potential in daily living and being, or existence.

A popular ‘trueque’ or barter trade event in northern Ecuador, where people exchange their goods without the use of money. Photo: Colectivo Agroecólogio

We all have a serious problem when people’s most basic activity – eating – undermines their ability to exist. Yet this is precisely what we have achieved with the advent of modern food. Through the pursuit of cheap food as a ‘good’, we have generated a series of unwanted ‘bads’, such as mass destruction of soils and water systems, erosion of agrobiodiversity, and widescale sickness and death by pesticides, not to mention the constitution of two, rampant pandemics: overweight/obesity and global warming/climate change. Fortunately, growing awareness of the contradictions of modern food is sparking lively counter movements.

We challenge the widespread preoccupation over how agriculture, food, and development should be. Instead, we focus on how everyday experience in agriculture and food is. The work of social movements in the Americas leads us to call attention to the forces of change in people’s everyday encounters with food – not as characterised in concept, but rather as embodied in practice. Continue reading “THE VITALITY OF EVERYDAY FOOD”

Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance

SoRo Sustainable Food Transitions

I am very pleased to share that a new special issue of Sociologia Ruralis edited by Damian Maye and me is now online: Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance.

The Special Issue provides theoretical insights and advancements into sustainability transitions through empirically grounded and informed investigations of food system practices. The papers confirm, following Hinrichs (2014, p. 143), that ‘numerous opportunities exist to forge more productive links between work on food systems change and the broad and growing sustainability transitions field’.

The Special Issue brings together 8 articles grouped together around two themes:

  1.  Examining relations between AFN practices and transition;
  2. Opening up measures and assessment practices for sustainability transitions.

Taken as a whole, the Special Issue advances discussions and thinking on alternative food practices and sustainability, opening up the debate not only on how to identify and analyse ‘alternative food practices’ in Europe, and beyond, but also on sustainability assessment metrics, governance processes and what counts as ‘sustainable’ in sustainability transitions.

Contents of the Special Issue

Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance Damian Maye and Jessica Duncan

Theme 1: Examining Relations Between AFN Practices and Transition

Theme 2: Opening Up Measures and Assessment Practices for Sustainable Food Transitions

Amsterdam Symposium on History of Food 2017: Making Sense of Taste

Registration is now open for the Amsterdam Symposium on History of Food 2017: Making Sense of Taste

Friday 17 November – Saturday 18 November 2017
Venue: Aula of the University of Amsterdam

Registration is now open on this website. We kindly invite you to register now. Do you have any questions? Please contact us.

Topic
From which angle does a scholar approach the concept of taste? Is it primarily an objective, chemical quality, or should it be considered a product of culture? And are these perspectives wholly incompatible? The physical quality and flavour of food and drink preoccupy molecular biologists, gastronomic professionals, and bon vivants. Chemists, among others, construe classification systems, aspiring to help us understand the complexity and the possibilities of flavour. Mediators and their audiences may oftentimes embrace subjectivity, by detailing their intimate and embodied experience of taste. Neither approach is new: historically, classification systems have had major cultural and religious significance, whereas the conception of ‘good’ food – as opposed to ‘bad’ food – and its application in mechanisms of social distinction is at least as old as class-based societies themselves. Clearly, discussions about taste have always been informed by an array of physiological and psychological experiences, not just our palates.

New book: The Global Political Economy of Raúl Prebisch

9781138219779

I am happy to announce a new book by Mathias Margulis

The Global Political Economy of Raúl Prebisch offers an original analysis of global political economy by examining it through the ideas, agency and influence of one of its most important thinkers, leaders and personalities. Prebisch’s ground-breaking ideas as an economist – the terms-of-trade thesis and the economic case for state-led industrialization – changed the world and guided economic policy across the global South. As the head of two UN bodies – the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and later the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) – he was at the frontline of key North–South political struggles for a fairer global distribution of wealth and the regulation of transnational corporations.

Prebisch increasingly came to view political power, not just economic capabilities, as pivotal to shaping the institutions and rules of the world economy. This book contextualizes his ideas, exploring how they were used and their relevance to contemporary issues. The neoliberal turn in economics in North America, Western Europe and across the global South led to an active discrediting of Prebisch’s theories and this volume offers an important corrective, reintroducing current and future generations of scholars and students to this important body of work and allowing a richer understanding of past and ongoing political struggles.

To purchase the book click here [20% Discount Available – enter the code FLR40 at checkout*]

Introduction can be downloaded here. 

Muddy paddies and peace

MSc student Joëlla van de Griend has posted a nice blog about all the hard work we are doing here in Kyoto!

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

By  Joëlla van de Griend

‘Mountains covered with woods’ is used to describe the green area of Keihoku, just outside of Kyoto City. As part of the AGST program, students and faculty members visited a farming event organized by the Shinfujin Kyoto (the new Japan Women’s Association) and the Nouminren Kyoto (Japan Family Farmers Movement).

Rice planting.jpg Participants transplanting rice: Our academic hosts were not afraid to get their hands and feet dirty!

This event tries to make the connection between farmers and consumers and is visited by a lot of families. We can look at it as a celebration of what the earth has given to both farmers and consumers, illustrated by the waving flags showing the text: ‘Hug the Mother Earth’. For example, one of the farmers I met told me about how he grows his rice in the village at the foot of the mountain without making use of…

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Teaching Food Security Governance in Kyoto

I am thrilled to be teaching a month long course on Global Food Security Governance at the Kyoto University. I have been invited by the Graduate School of Economics as part of the Asian Platform for Global Sustainability & Transcultural Studies, Social Sciences and Humanities Unit.

The course is four weeks long and covers:

  • Context and concepts
  • Key issues and actors
  • Theories to support analysis
  • Methods for data collection and analysis

For more information see:  Lecture series Global Food Security Governance Kyoto