I just published a new paper in Agriculture and Human Values, co-authored with Mike Simpson, entitled "Stacking functions: Motivational frames guiding urban agriculture organizations and businesses in the United States and Canada." Here's the abstract:
While a growing body of scholarship identifies urban agriculture’s broad suite of benefits and drivers, it remains unclear how motivations to engage in urban agriculture (UA) interrelate or how they differ across cities and types of organizations. In this paper, we draw on survey responses collected from more than 250 UA organizations and businesses from 84 cities across the United States and Canada. Synthesizing the results of our quantitative analysis of responses (including principal components analysis), qualitative analysis of textual data excerpted from open-ended responses, and a review of existing literature, we describe six motivational frames that appear to guide organizations and businesses in their UA practice: Entrepreneurial, Sustainable Development, Educational, Eco-Centric, DIY Secessionist, and Radical. Identifying how practitioners stack functions and frame their work is a first step in helping to differentiate the diverse and often contradictory efforts transforming urban food environments. We demonstrate that a wide range of objectives drive UA and that political orientations and discourses differ by geography, organizational type and size, and funding regime. These six paradigms provide a basic framework for understanding UA that can guide more in-depth studies of the gap between intentions and outcomes, while helping link historically and geographically specific insights to wider social and political economic processes.
If you don't have institutional access to the journal, you can read the paper here for free or download a copy of the post-print here. The paper is built on a wider survey of UA organizations and businesses we conducted a couple of years ago when Mike was still a MURP student before heading to UBC (click here for the summary results of the overall survey).
Great new article: "The Elusive Inclusive: Black Food Geographies and Racialized Food Spaces" by Margaret Marietta Ramírez
I just read a new article in Antipode by a geography PhD student at the U of Washington, Margaret Marietta Ramirez. In it she pushes the boundaries of food justice scholarship by drawing on black geographies and critical race theory (notably as elaborated by McKittrick and Woods) to "de-center the white subject as the presumed actor within critical food studies". Here's the abstract:
North American food scholars, activists and policymakers often consider how to make a community food project more inclusive to “vulnerable populations” to increase participation in local food efforts. Drawing from qualitative research conducted with two community food organizations in Seattle, Washington, I argue that inclusive efforts are not addressing the power asymmetries present in organizations and within communities. Engaging with black geographies literature, I reveal how a black food justice organization grapples with violent histories of slavery and dispossession rooted in a black farming imaginary, and works to re-envision this imaginary to one of power and transformation. The spatial imaginaries and spaces of each food organization acknowledge racial histories differentially, informing their activism. Black geographies possess knowledge and spatial politics that can revitalize community food movements, and I consider how white food activists might reframe their work so that their efforts are not fueling the displacement of residents of color.
She makes an important claim that really speaks to something I've been mulling over, which is the relationship between food justice and food sovereignty. She writes: "Some food scholars have signaled that perhaps a shift in terminology to that of “food sovereignty” would be more appropriate for food movements that address injustices across scale. While the use of food sovereignty connects North American struggles to indigenous struggles for autonomy across the globe, signaling our interconnection in the colonial present, I worry that the loss of this genealogy would displace the critique of institutional racism central to food justice activism and use a broad brushstroke to encompass place-based movements rooted in black geographies. In addition, the loss of the “justice” genealogy that traces food justice activism to its social justice roots in black social movements would be lost, submerging generations of black struggles for equity that are often tied to the land."
Great reading and I'll definitely be assigning it in class!
We had a fantastic trip to Vancouver this weekend to attend the 9th Annual Critical Geographies Mini-Conference, hosted by Simon Fraser University. There was a fantastic array of theoretically rigorous presentations by master's and PhD students from PSU, UW, SFU, UBC, Guelph, and Evergreen State, and two great panels -- one on the Right to the City and one on alienation -- that brought together faculty, PhD students, post-docs and community activists from a range of places.
I'm always struck by how much Canadian critical geographers invoke the concept of decolonization in their work... and without fail, begin their presentations with an acknowledgement of speaking on unceded First Nations (or more specifically Coast Salish, Musqueam, etc) territory. I raised this observation at the end of the day, asking what decolonization might mean for American scholars and activists. How does the concept change as it crosses the border, how does it work when taking into consideration the experience of African Americans? Latinos? Asian Americans? While decolonization is certainly underemphasized here -- it's rare to hear an acknowledgement here in Portland that we're standing on unceded Tualatin, Kalapuya, Multnomah, or Clackamas land -- I don't know that how the term as it's used in Canada maps easily onto the US experience, despite the shared border and similar settler histories of extermination and resource extraction, given that so many justice struggles in the US have centered on rights more than territory. There are clear links to these specific historical geographies when we think about how terms like "food justice" and "food sovereignty" take on different valence on either side of the border. More on this at another time, but I raise this question as a teaser to conversations that we'll hopefully engage in when we host the conference --the 10th Annual -- a year from now here at Portland State. Look out for an announcement early next fall and we hope to see you there!
Nathan McClintock is a geographer and professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University.