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Accepted Paper:

Rendering Foodscapes - Potentials and Pitfalls of Mapping and Digital Storytelling for Food Governance in Cape Town  


Florian Kroll (University of the Western Cape DST-NRF Centre of Excellence on Food Security)
Camilla Adelle (University of Pretoria)

Paper short abstract:

Food systems researchers are deploying innovative methodologies to render foodscapes visible and legible for governance. This paper juxtaposes quantitative representations using charts and maps, with knowledge co-production through digital storytelling, presenting divergent views of foodscapes.

Paper long abstract:

Public health, ecological and economic impacts of food system transitions are concentrated in metropolitan areas and require urgent local governance innovations. "Food environments" and "foodscapes" represent conceptual tools rendering local drivers of food purchasing and consumption ("foodways") visible and legible. The concepts are widely deployed in discursive struggles to galvanise the will to govern urban food insecurity. This paper discusses divergent methodologies employed to inform food governance in Cape Town. In presentations to governance stakeholders, quantitative attempts to survey and represent foodscapes using GIS and charts were juxtaposed with qualitative digital storytelling processes co-producing knowledge with residents of surveyed neighbourhoods. Analysis of quantitative findings generated a series of maps and charts offering policy-makers "evidence" to inform discourses legitimising regulatory intervention. However, territorial and temporal limitations make generalisation risky, and the "birds-eye" perspective results in a high level of abstraction which limits comprehension, participation and the affective impact necessary to develop the will to govern foodscapes. The digital storytelling process generated a series of personal stories telling of difficult decisions which members of the affected communities made concerning food. These represented a "worms-eye" view highlighting how "foodways" are shaped by intersectionalities and embedded in wider social practices and particular places. Although emotionally compelling stories may galvanise greater political will, thus complementing and raising the visibility of representations of quantitative data, the divergent perspectives raise important questions about the role of researchers in the co-production of knowledge and how this may variously open up and close down discursive space for policy development.

Panel MA01a
Mapping the Edible City: Making visible communities and food spaces in the city