Food Sovereignty and the Geographies of Food System Change 2

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Rural Geography Specialty Group, Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Organizers: Bryan Dale, Charles Levkoe
Chairs: Charles Levkoe


There has been considerable debate in recent years about the potential for food sovereignty, and the social movements behind it, to drive change within the food system. On the one hand, there is recognition that food sovereignty supports a distinctly politicized view of food and agricultural issues, drawing attention to corporate control by agribusiness, unjust trade regimes, land grabbing, socio-ecological problems caused by industrial agriculture, and more (Edelman et al. 2014; Holt-Giménez and Shattuck 2011). On the other hand, there is considerable diversity among groups advocating for food sovereignty in different geographic regions, with variations in terms of class interests and political views drawing attention to potentially irreconcilable differences among those groups (Bernstein 2010, 2014; Patel 2010).

More broadly, food sovereignty struggles raise questions about a range of challenges and opportunities facing those who would advocate for alternative food systems. Tendencies within capitalist political economies largely constrain efforts to shift away from dominant agrifood models (Goodman et al. 2012), and recent literature on the ongoing relevance of the agrarian question points to specific matters worthy of consideration in this regard (Akram-Lodhi 2013; Friedmann 2016). At the same time, food sovereignty is often used as a framework for existing practical initiatives focused on, for example, agroecological production practices, localized/just food economies, and democratic governance in the food system (Wittman et al. 2010). The existence of such initiatives encourages a non-essentialist and non-totalizing view of capitalist processes and relations (Gibson-Graham 2006). How then might food sovereignty-related initiatives expand and be replicated despite overarching challenges posed by dominant political-economic relations?

For this paper session we invite contributions related to these themes, either generally or specifically. Paper topics could focus on, for example:
• Theoretical approaches to understanding the geographies of food sovereignty and agrarian struggles in relation to processes and tendencies under capitalism.
• Struggles of actors attempting to expand food sovereignty-related initiatives and/or confront corporations/capitalist actors influencing the food system.
• Subjectivities of peasants, farmers or others who are (or are not) drawing connections between food sovereignty and capitalism.
• Counterhegemonic organizing and political education aimed at confronting capitalism through food sovereignty struggles.
• Specific issues related to these themes, such as agrarian reform struggles, land concentration, industrial agriculture, and labour in the food system.
• Comparative case studies connected to these themes.


Akram-Lodhi, A. H. (2013). Hungry for Change: Farmers, Food Justice and the Agrarian Question. Black Point, NS: Fernwood Publishing.

Bernstein, H. (2010). Class Dynamics of Agrarian Change. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing.

Bernstein, H. (2014). Food sovereignty via the ‘peasant way’: a sceptical view. Journal of Peasant Studies, 41(6): 1031–1063.

Edelman, M., T. Weis, A. Baviskar, S. M. Borras Jr, E. Holt-Giménez, D. Kandiyoti and W. Wolford (2014). Introduction: Critical Perspectives on Food Sovereignty. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 41(6): 911–931.

Friedmann, H. (2016). Commentary: Food regime analysis and agrarian questions: widening the conversation. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 43(3): 671-692.

Gibson-Graham, J. K. (2006). The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Second Edition.

Goodman, D., E. M. DuPuis, and M. K. Goodman (2012). Alternative Food Networks. New York, NY: Routledge.

Holt-Giménez, E. and Shattuck, A. (2011). Food crises, food regimes and food movements: rumblings of reform or tides of transformation? Journal of Peasant Studies, 38(1): 109-144.

Patel, R. (2010). What Does Food Sovereignty Look Like? In Wittman H., A. A. Desmarais and N. Wiebe (eds.) Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing, pp. 186-196.

Wittman, H., A. A. Desmarais and N. Wiebe (eds. 2010). Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing.



Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Jessica Milgroom*, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University, Colin Anderson, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University , Mapping for Food System Transformation 20 9:55 AM
Presenter Daniela Marini*, University of Colorado, Unveiling the Other Countryside: Food Sovereignty, Land and Race in Argentina 20 10:15 AM
Presenter Carrie Freshour*, Delta State University, Max Ajl, Cornell University, Finding Labor in the Agrarian Question 20 10:35 AM
Presenter Roseann Kerr*, Queen's University, Ayla Fenton, National Farmers Union, Canada, Erin Richan, National Farmers Union, Canada, Young Female Organic Farmers as Externalities of Canada’s Industrial Food System? 20 10:55 AM
Presenter Bryan Dale*, University of Toronto, Food sovereignty as counterhegemony: Radical pedagogy and the war of position 20 11:15 AM

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