Food citizenship and the market, IRSA (2)

It was very stimulating the hear the speech of Boaventura de Sousa Santos last Monday also because we use his theories in some courses. He pointed to the hegemonic epistemologies of the West which render other knowledges invisible and/or insignificant. However, the current economic/financial crisis in Europe creates turbulence in conceived concepts. Who knows the West can learn from other epistemologies such as from indigenous people in the South to overcome the theoretical exhaustion, he provoked. Also Patricia Allen challenged us to “illuminate our epistemological frameworks and interrogate our ideology constructions” (such as ideas on the free market).

But what if concepts have such hegemonic power that they disappear into the background as taken for granted stepping stones in conversations, writings and analysis? While many of us are aware of and very critical about particular neo-liberal frameworks of the free market, the concept of ‘market’ itself is something we seldom think we can do without. The logic of our everyday lived experience of capitalist market relations is silently inside our analysis, even if we are talking about civic food networks where citizens take initiatives to form new food networks. Continue reading

Convergence of food social movements, IRSA reflection 1

In Lisbon, Portugal, the World Congress of Rural Sociology is currently on. It is a stimulating week with researchers from all over the world in plenary sessions as well as smaller parallel groups where results and concepts are presented and discussed. While listening to some presentations, I had to think of the book “Food Movements Unite!” edited by Eric Holt-Giménez. Leaders of the food sovereignty movement talk about the future of the movement and about the need to unite. From the academic work currently presented, there seems to be hopeful news that this is happening. Patricia Allen explained how there is “basket of social movements in convergence” around food and agriculture in the US currently. Whereas the Sustainable Agriculture coalition would talk about environmental degradation and profitability of farm enterprises and certainly not about food security and social justice in a wider sense, this move is now being made. This makes linkages possible with the Community Food Security Movement. To describe this development, Patricia used the metaphor of a tree trunk with a non-negotiable core and branches with leaves of slightly different colour. Continue reading