Welcome Kees Jansen – Scholar in Critical Agrarian Studies

My name is Kees Jansen. A few weeks ago, I have started in my new job at the Rural Sociology Group. I am very honoured that I can contribute to the international development profile of the group and teach in the domain of critical agrarian studies. Rural Sociology is an exciting group with a long history of remarkable work on redesigning the agro-food system and developing a social justice perspective in agrarian and food policies.

My teaching activities will mainly focus on the courses Sociology of Farming and Rural Life, Globalization and Sustainability of Food Production and Consumption, and Advanced Social Theory.

Latin America is the region where I have done most of my own field work, but shorter stays in a number of Asian and African countries have been important for grasping the significance of comparative research. By working on an organic farm in France, by living with small potato producers high in Andes and with maize-bean producers in Honduras, through interviewing export crop producers in Costa Rica and Mexico, and by visiting farmer co-operatives in the Philippines, I have experienced the multiple pressures on different types of farmers in this globalizing world. In the Rural Sociology Group I will continue my research activities on agrarian political ecology (the greening of the agrarian question; nature-society issues), pesticide risk governance, and theoretical issues in agrarian studies.

The latest examples of my work have just been published in Global Environmental Politics: Business Conflict and Risk Regulations: Understanding the Influence of the Pesticide Industry  (sorry, not yet open access) and in the Journal of Agrarian Change with Jaye de la Cruz: Panama disease and contract farming in the Philippines: Towards a political ecology of risk – open access).

The interesting aspect of doing sociology in Wageningen is the unique opportunity to collaborate with natural scientists on analysing social-technical configurations. Besides my own more specific research topics, I am always interested in exploring new, creative and challenging ideas of prospective thesis students and PhD candidates within the broader domain where international development studies and agrarian studies intersect. Examples are labour conditions of a flexible (often migrant) labour force, the social conditions for agroecology, social responses to risks of agricultural technologies, counter-expertise and social movements, people’s adaptation to climate change, agribusiness strategies, the future of corporate social responsibility, hunger and food security, sociology and politics of knowledge (including interdisciplinarity), autonomy/dependence in agrarian change, and comparative analysis of food sovereignty actions in the Global South. You can read more about me and my work on my website: www.keesjansen.eu.

Do not hesitate to contact me at kees.jansen@wur.nl to talk about your ideas.

Drijfveren, waarden en praktijken van eerste generatie boeren – MSc thesis onderzoek Laura Genello

Laura Genello, student MSc Organic Agriculture van Wageningen University, doet een vergelijkend onderzoek naar eerste generatie boeren in Nederland en de staat Maryland in USA. Eerste generatieboeren zijn zij die geen familiebedrijf hebben overgenomen, maar toch op de een of andere manier zijn begonnen met boeren. Zie haar website Beginning farmers research voor meer informatie (in Engels). Daarop staat ook de online vragenlijst met een Nederlandse en Engelse versie.

Laura wil onderzoeken of deze instromers bepaalde ideeën en waarden over hoe goed te boeren met elkaar delen en in hoeverre ze die in praktijk weten te brengen. Laura heeft een online vragenlijst gemaakt die ingevuld kan worden door personen die in het profiel passen. Hier vindt u de Nederlandse versie van de online vragenlijst. Mocht u zelf een eerste generatie boer zijn dan kunt u de vragenlijst zelf invullen. Mocht u iemand kennen die hier aan voldoet, dan mag u de link doorsturen.

U kunt ook uiteraard ook contact opnemen met Laura Genello: laura.genello@wur.nl

Thesis option: food in suburbia

The CBS (Dutch Bureau for Statistics) has shown that many young families are leaving the city, looking for more space and more affordable housing. These families often want to stay close to the city and therefore move to neighbouring towns or suburban areas. What does this mean for their food provisioning strategies? Where do these people buy most of their food and to what extent are they constrained by what is on offer locally? To what extent to they (still) use the city for their food provisioning, such as going out to dinner or visiting specialty shops? To what extent is such ‘urban food’ available in suburban areas? And how does this relate to people’s lifestyles and identities?

The urban food landscape is in constant transition, but we do not clearly know how people engage with their everyday food planning – where do they go, what choices do they make, and what practical considerations do they take into account? Answering such questions will help us better understand people’s food provisioning practices, and how to make these practices more sustainable and healthy.

We are looking for a thesis student interested in these questions, and willing to do a thesis with the Rural Sociology Group, starting spring 2018. Interested? Send a short motivation to esther.veen@wur.nl and anke.devrieze@wur.nl.

Thesis option: exploring the gentrifying foodscape

The Amsterdamsestraatweg, a street in Utrecht, is known for its kebab take-away restaurants, hairdressers and massage salons. During the last years, however, businesses along the street are changing due to gentrification. ‘Hipster bars’ and vintage furniture shops are appearing. A similar process is happening at the Javastraat in Amsterdam.

The urban food landscape is in constant transition, but we do not clearly know how people engage with their everyday food planning – where do they go, what choices do they make, and what practical considerations do they take into account? Answering such questions will help us better understand people’s food provisioning practices, and how to make these practices more sustainable and healthy.

The Rural Sociology Group is looking for a student interested in exploring one or both of the changing foodscapes (Amsterdamsestraatweg / Javastraat). What kind of people are visiting these food places? Do the same people make use of the full variety, or do the kebab places and the hipster bars (as the two extremes) attract different groups of people? Where do the customers of both types of food places live? What do their food provisioning practices look like, and what is important to them when consuming food?

We are looking for one or two thesis students interested in these questions, and willing to do a thesis with the Rural Sociology Group, starting spring 2018. Interested? Send a short motivation to esther.veen@wur.nl and anke.devrieze@wur.nl.

Thesismogelijkheid: Tuinieren voor kankerpatienten

Due to the nature of this thesis, which involves speaking to Dutch former cancer patients, this thesis is only available for Dutch speaking students.

Voor het project Healing Gardens (zie www.healinggardenswur.nl) ben ik op zoek naar een student die een thesis wil schrijven bij de leerstoelgroep Rurale Sociologie.

Healing Gardens is een samenwerking van Rurale Sociologie en Humane Voeding. Doel van het project is onderzoeken in hoeverre tuinieren bijdraagt aan de kwaliteit van leven van ex-kankerpatiënten. Tussen april en september 2017 hebben we een pilot onderzoek uitgevoerd, waarbij 6 patiënten hebben getuinierd in Almere. De pilot was onderdeel van onderzoeksprogramma’s van AMS (Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions) en de Flevocampus.

De deelnemers hebben tijdens de pilot aan drie meetronden meegedaan – aan het begin, in het midden en aan het einde. Vanuit Rurale Sociologie hebben we de deelnemers gevraagd naar hun verwachtingen, in hoeverre die uitkwamen, sociale relaties en lotgenotencontact. Ik ben nu op zoek naar een student om deze interviews te analyseren en daar een thesis over te schrijven. Daarnaast kun je zelf extra data verzamelen. Hiervoor zijn meerdere opties, afhankelijk van je eigen interesse. Voorbeelden zijn follow-up interviews met de deelnemers, of interviews met deelnemers van andere lotgenotencontact-groepen, om de verschillen tussen verscheidene vormen van lotgenotencontact te onderzoeken.

De thesis kan vanaf april beginnen. Geïnteresseerd? Stuur een korte motivatie naar esther.veen@wur.nl.

Healing gardens in a video

In an earlier post I talked about our pilot project Healing Gardens, which had just started: six (former) cancer patients were gardening under supervision of two enthusiastic volunteers, at Parkhuys (a cancer support center) in Almere. The aim of the pilot was to prepare for a larger study in which we hope to find out to what extent gardening is a useful way to increase physical activity, stimulate healthy eating patterns, and function as effective social peer support.

This pilot has now ended. It has been successful in the sense that the patients really enjoyed the activity. Almost all of them have taken up gardening at home – two of them have even rented an allotment together. Also, the pilot gave us valuable insights which we will use when starting the lager study: the gardening containers were considered too small by most participants, for instance, and it is extremely important to have access to knowledgeable garden supervisors. Currently we are analyzing our results – during the course of the pilot gardeners were interviewed three times, filled out different questionnaires and participated in various fitness tests. We expect the results early 2018.

One of our project partners, Jan Eelco Jansma, explains the aims of our study in more detail in a video. You can also visit our website for more information: www.healinggardenswur.nl. Sorry, both are in Dutch. Healing Gardens is a cooperation between Rural Sociology, Human Nutrition, and applied plant sciences, and supported by the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions and Flevocampus.

Planning for Equitable Urban and Regional Food Systems

There is a new Special Issue of the journal “Built Environment” on the topic of Planning for Equitable Urban and Regional Food Systems.

The Special Issues starts from the question: How does and can planning and design enhance the freedom and wellbeing of marginalized actors in the food system – low-income residents, people of colour, small-holder farmers, and refugees – the very people the alternative food movements purport to serve?

In the Special Issue authors from across the Global North and South explore the role of planning and design in communities’ food systems, while explicitly considering the imbalances in equity, justice, and power.

The collection includes a paper by former Rural Sociology MSc student Maria Vasile and Jessica Duncan.

We want to be part of the broader project’ Family Farmers and Local Food Governance in Porto Alegre, Brazil

Brazil has been praised for the development of its agricultural sector, its policies against hunger, and its support for family farming. Yet, the future of small-scale family farmers remains uncertain. In this paper, we question whether food system localization facilitates the integration of small-scale family farmers into food governance processes in Porto Alegre, Brazil. To answer this, we present the City Region Food System (CRFS) as a conceptual approach to explore the relationship between food systems localization and enhanced participation of small-scale family farmers in food governance. After introducing the case study of local food in Porto Alegre, we highlight key structural inequalities that limit family farmers’ participation in local food practices and influence their involvement in food governance. We then examine linkages between local food policy efforts and family farmers’ praxis, attempting to discern mismatches and related implications for the development of an inclusive CRFS. We argue that systematization of local food practices within the city region represents a double-edged sword as it may
translate into a decrease in farmers’ autonomy and ownership of local initiatives and burden them with regulations not fit for purpose. In conclusion, we suggest that a CRFS approach to planning can help to address structural inequalities and power asymmetries in local food governance only if informed by local dynamics and based on context-sensitive mechanisms for participatory governance incorporating a variety of small-scale family farmers (and other stakeholders).

Discussing about Diverse Economies with prof. Katherine Gibson

On June 27th 2017, the Rural Sociology Group (in collaboration with SUSPLACE and in conjuction with the CSPS Conference ‘The Value of Life’) organised a masterclass on Performative Practices for Diverse Economies with prof. Katherine Gibson (Western Sydney University).

The masterclass was well attended, with more than 25 PhDs, researchers and professors joining, from a diversity of geographical and disciplinary backgrounds.

Prof. Gibson opened the meeting with a short presentation of her work on Diverse Economies. Next, we engaged in dynamic ‘fishbowl’ conversations in which 3 participants at a time discussed about a topic or question of joint interest, with prof.  Gibson stepping in and helping to advance the thinking.

We thus actively ‘performed thinking’ on diverse economies!

00:1927:06 Family Economies & Gender (with Maria Borras Escayola, Shivani Kaul and Zulfa Utami Adiputri)
27:1042:42 Participation, Activation & Motivation (with Veerle Boekenstijn, Esther Veen and Inez Dekker)
43:0058:28 Food Economies, prosumers and community gardens (with Sungwoong Jung, Lucie Sovova and Alberto Serra)

Thanks to MSc student Veerle Boekestijn, both prof. Gibson’s keynote and all the fishbowl conversation have been captured on video. We are happy to share them here, with all those that weren’t able to attend the masterclass in person.

 

Sharing food and building community through ICT

Group dinner of surplus food at Thuis Wageningen. Photo by Tzu Yuan Su, Taiwan

By Cheron Constance: drczconstance@gmail.com

June 21 2017 Cheron successfully defended her PhD-thesis What if the trucks stop coming? : exploring the framing of local food by cooperative food retailers in New Mexico

Stone soup an allegorical folktale (with many variations) in which a hungry stranger arrives in a village and persuades the local people to contribute small amounts of ingredients to make a meal collectively. Continue reading

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