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Is the Food System in Crisis?
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  • 1. The Food System in Crisis? Bio-politics, political ecology & global change Dr Matt Reed 06/02/2014 copyright Matt Reed 2014
  • 2. Outline ✤ Crisis - what crisis? ✤ Peaks & troughs ✤ Bio-politics ✤ Political ecology ✤ Global changes ✤ Flows, networks & gels copyright Matt Reed 2014 01
  • 3. copyright Matt Reed 2014
  • 4. The normal crisis of the food system ✤ Range of meanings of crisis, and its uses ✤ “Twenty-first century policy needs to focus on food supply chains, beyond as well as including agriculture, because power and capital have moved off the land, controlling access to mostly urban markets.” ✤ “Biology has become the pre-eminent science, replacing the chemical revolution of agrichemicals and fertilisers before it.” ✤ Tim Lang 2010
  • 5. Power in the food system ✤ Retailers and financialization ✤ Retailer driven supply chains, moulding of consumer’s choices ✤ A political formula: Capital + Science + Waste reduction , Raises food output = Progress. ✤ Lang - ecological public health
  • 6. New Fundamentals (pace Lang) ✤ Climate Change ✤ Water ✤ Biodiversity and Ecosystems Support ✤ Energy & non-renewable fossil fuels - peak oil, ✤ Population growth - urban ✤ Waste ✤ Land ✤ Soil ✤ Labour ✤ Dietary change & public health
  • 7. Bio-politics ✤ Guthman & DuPuis and the politics of fat ✤ Foucault’s History of Sexuality, desire and the emergence of new points of power. ✤ “For millennia, man remained what he was for Aristotle: a living animal with the additional capacity for a political existence; modern man is an animal whose politics places his existence as a living being in question”.p265
  • 8. Rural Development paradigms ✤ Marsden and Horlings ✤ Eco-economic strategies of food and rural development ✤ Replacing the neo-liberal policies, on economic,social and environmental grounds ✤ Looking for a place to stand
  • 9. 01
  • 10. http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/in-tahrir-square-18-days-of-egypts-unfinished-revolution
  • 11. Protest movements 2008 - 2014 - Arab spring (Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Turkey, Yemen, Bahrain) + protest in Iran - Occupy movement (US, UK …..) - Indignadas (Spain) + Greek & Italian protests - Brazilian protests - Brazilian protests - Brazilian protests - Brazilian protests copyright Matt Reed 2014 - Riots in the UK, Sweden and China - On-going protests in Thailand - Suppressed peaceful Sunni protests in Iraq
  • 12. Flows, networks & gels ✤ After Mol, Castells and ANT ✤ After the nation state ✤ Centrality of networks as a paradigm and organising metaphor ✤ Gels - movements, migrations
  • 13. Castells ✤ Globalised informational capitalism ✤ “the core processes of informational generation, economic productivity, political/military power and media communication are already deeply transformed by the informational paradigm, and are connected to global networks of wealth, power, and symbols working under such a logic” (Castells 1997:21)
  • 14. The network paradigm ✤ “I propose the hypothesis that space organizes time in the network society” (Castells p376) ✤ The importance of flows (not forces) ✤ “Flows are not just one element of the social organisation: they are the expression of processes dominating our economic, political, and symbolic life” p412
  • 15. Global Fluids “Global Fluids are spatial patterns structured neither by boundaries nor by more or less stable relations, but by large flexibility, liquidity, gel-like movement and permeable boundaries. Fluids demonstrate no clear point of departure or arrival and no clear sequential dependency, just de-territorialised movement with no necessary end state or goal. Migrating people, financial capital, the Internet and social movements are typical examples” ✤(Mol 2013: 7)
  • 16. Global Integrated Networks “GINs consist of more or less stable, enduring and predictable relations between nodes or hubs stretching across different regions with relatively walled routes for flows. GINs cross regional boundaries and thus become deterritorialised, although place-based moorings ensure that they do not become footloose. They deliver the same kind of outcome at all nodes, with limited adaptation to local circumstances and their ‘products are predictable, calculable, routinised and standardized’ (Urry 2003, pp. 56– 57). Large multinational corporations like Coca Cola, agro-food networks and civil society network organisations such as Friends of the Earth are typical examples.” Mol 2013
  • 17. Social theory and food system ✤ Socio-spatial ✤ Importance of nature - political ecology ✤ Food as a route to questions about wider flows and networks ✤ Challenge of critical social science to inform and abet social change.

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