Linking urban and rural food production through kinship networks in Vanuatu

Authors: Luke Drake*, California State University, Northridge
Topics: Pacific Islands, Cultural and Political Ecology, Urban Geography
Keywords: urban agriculture, networks, urban-rural, diverse economies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Bacchus, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper examines the ways that food production and distribution links urban and rural places in Vanuatu, a Melanesian country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. My objective is to contribute to knowledge of how and why the places involved in non-capitalist forms of food production, distribution, and consumption are linked. Vanuatu provides a context to study intra-urban and urban-rural flows of food, because of, on one hand, rapid urbanization rates, and on the other hand, the persistence of customary land access and commons in rural areas. I conducted a pilot study in June 2017 in order to quantify and categorize food sent via kinship network between rural and urban areas, and between urban neighborhoods; and to explore the processes involved in constructing these networks. Methods included surveys of rural residents, interviews of urban residents, participatory mapping of urban gardens, and a focus group organized as a community workshop. I found that food sent from rural to urban areas, and urban agriculture, together constitute a socio-spatial network that supports livelihoods in both rural and urban areas, and helps people plan for future needs. Conclusions relate to food security, disaster and climate change mitigation, and a spatialized argument on J.K. Gibson-Graham’s concept of interdependence.

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