Accepted paper:

Embodied citizenship - politicizing gendered inequalities in local food networks


Carla Wember (University of Kassel)

Paper short abstract:

Food is a site of gendered inequalities. How is this addressed in local food systems that promise to be alternatives to an unsustainable agricultural system? This paper shows that, while local food systems perpetuate inequalities, they can also be sites of emancipatory food citizenship.

Paper long abstract:

Local food systems promise to be alternatives to a crisis-laden hegemony of the industrial agricultural system. Yet, researchers of critical geography question the notion of localization as a panacea. They propose a specification towards diversity-receptive localizations. This reveals food (politics) to be focal points of social inequalities - materializing in economic access to food, gendered responsibilities in its provision or unequal distribution of food production resources. This paper asks how local food practices (re)produce gendered inequalities and in what ways these inequalities can be politicized. For that, findings from an empirical study, conducted in summer 2016 in Toronto, Canada, are adduced. The argumentation is guided by thoughts on the local from critical geography, understandings of food and gender from Feminist Food Studies and ideas on publics, citizenship and transformation from Feminist Political Ecology. It can be shown that that there is danger of reinforcing gendered inequalities through local food systems while simultaneously sites of breaking gendered scripts, initiating material redistribution and politicizing both emerge. Secondly, it appears that through embodied experiences in local food networks new forms of socio-material connections can be imagined and practiced, embracing their often hybrid and contradictory formations. For the conception of locality, a turn to its political possibilities rather than its mere economic character is proposed. Political regulation and deliberation should be included in theorizations of local food networks. Since lastly it becomes apparent that local food organization goes beyond a mere re-definition of production-consumption-relations and collective spaces emerge to politicize socio-ecological inequalities.

panel A25
Trouble swallowing? Food, technoscience and publics