Food Sovereignty: a Critical Dialogue

food sovereigntyOn 24 January 2014, the event ‘Food Sovereignty: A Critical Dialogue’ will bring together sceptics and advocates of food sovereignty to discuss the future of this controversial idea in critical agrarian studies.

Ian Scoones will be chairing the opening keynote session of this event, held at the International Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands. Video from the event will be streamed live on the ISS website.


The opening session includes a keynote address from Elizabeth Mpofu (Via Campesina), and contributions from Susan George (Transnational Institute), Olivier de Schutter (UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food), Teodor Shanin (Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences) and Tania Li (University of Toronto).

Other speakers include leading scholars and activists including Marc Edelman, Philip McMichael, Annette Desmarais, Jennifer Clapp, Peter Rosset, Eric Holt-Gimenez, Sophia Murphy, Phil Woodhouse, John Hilary, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Wendy Wolford, Sofia Monsalve and Nora McKeon.


Organisers: ISS-Agrarian, Food & Environmental Studies (AFES), Initiatives in Critical Agrarian Studies (ICAS), Transnational Institute (TNI), Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First, Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI), The Journal of Peasant Studies

Funding support: European Research Council (ERC), Ford Foundation, Inter-Church Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), and ISS Research Programme ‘Political Economy of Resources, Population & the Environment’ (PER)

What is food sovereignty?

A fundamentally contested concept, food sovereignty has — as a political project and campaign, an alternative, a social movement, and an analytical framework — barged into global agrarian discourse over the last two decades. Since then, it has inspired and mobilized diverse publics: workers, scholars and public intellectuals, farmers and peasant movements, NGOs and human rights activists in the North and global South.

The term has become a challenging subject for social science research, and has been interpreted and reinterpreted in a variety of ways by various groups and individuals. Indeed, it is a concept that is broadly defined as the right of peoples to democratically control or determine the shape of their food system, and to produce sufficient and healthy food in culturally appropriate and ecologically sustainable ways in and near their territory.

As such it spans issues such as food politics, agroecology, land reform, bio-fuels, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), urban gardening, the patenting of life forms, labor migration, the feeding of volatile cities, ecological sustainability, and subsistence rights.

Yale papers available to download

Some of the papers discussed at the Yale food sovereignty conference in September 2013 are to be published in the Journal of Peasant Studies (JPS) in May and June 2014.

A selection of these have been formally published in advance and are now available online – for free. These include papers by Henry Bernstein, Jack Kloppenburg, Jennifer Clapp, and Madeleine Fairbairn. Access is free of charge from the Journal of Peasant Studies website.

The publication of these papers is part of the contribution of JPS and its publisher to the public debate on food sovereignty, on the occasion of the journal’s 40th anniversary.

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