Call for Nominations: GFASG Scholar-Activist Award

The Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group (GFASG) is pleased to announce the launch of a new award for outstanding scholar-activist/activist-scholar work related to geographies of food and agriculture, including work that advances social, economic, and/or environmental justice through food and agriculture.

Photo of person holding a stack of books obscuring their face. Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

This award will be given out biennially to a person, group, project, or organization that utilizes a scholar-activist/activist-scholar approach in their work to advance equity, justice, diversity, and inclusion in food and agricultural systems.

The nominees must demonstrate social or environmental justice commitments in food and agriculture systems and evidence of positive change (which can include impact through a
continued and committed partnership). Priority will be given to scholars from underrepresented
groups in geography, as well as graduate students.

This award will be recognized at the GFASG business meeting at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers and through the GFASG newsletter, listserv, website, and social media. The recipient will receive a $250 monetary prize.

People, groups, or projects can self-nominate or be nominated by others. The current call for nominations is for projects ongoing or closed in 2021 or 2022. Nominations undergo review by the Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group’s Executive Committee. Questions should be directed to Kristen Lowitt (kristen.lowitt@queenusu.ca).

The application consists of the Google application form, available here.

Application Deadline: February 1, 2023.

Call for Proposals: 2023 Graduate Research Grant Competition

Image of fresh vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, red beets, golden beets, purple beet

The AAG Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group (GFASG) invites proposals for the 2023 Graduate Research Grant Competition. The Master’s and Doctoral competitions are designed to support graduate students in the early stages of their research and graduate student experience (whether field, university, or home-based). Submission of a budget is not required. Download the PDF for complete information on applying.

Application Deadline: Feb 1, 2023. Decisions will be made by March 15th

Join us on February 28, 2022 for a virtual Geographies of FJSAAS panel + participatory discussion!

Scholar-Activism/Activist-Scholarship: Methodologies of Care and Accountability in Just Food Research

Virtual Conference Session – American Association of Geographers (AAG)

Monday, February 28, 2022

2:20 p.m. (Pacific Time) / 3:20 p.m. (Mountain Time) / 5:20 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Virtual Room 43

Duration: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Sponsor Groups: Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, Black Geographies Specialty Group

In this session, we hope to disseminate what it means to be accountable as a Scholar-activist/Activist-scholar in food research. Our four panelists will share some of their experiences and research findings that can help deepen our collective work, while also uplifting grassroots efforts.

Please see the AAG conference Session webpage (if you are registered for AAG) or our webpage for more information. 

We hope to see many of you there!

FJSAAS Blog – Edition 1.3 – Fall 2021

Welcome to the Fall 2021 edition of the Food Justice Scholar-Activist/Activist-Scholar Community of Practice (FJSAAS) blog! 

The FJSASS blog began in January 2021 and will be published 3-4 times per year. Each edition will include recent FJSAAS Activity Updates; Monthly Meeting Highlights; a Member or Project Spotlight; and a Topic or Current Issue Brief. Any FJSAAS participant is welcome to contribute to the blog. See information about contributing below.

Table of Contents:

1. FJSAAS Activity Updates

2. Monthly Meeting Highlights

3. Member Spotlight

4. Topic Brief [on haïtus this quarter]

1. FJSAAS Activity Updates

By Melody Lynch

Much has happened since our last blog post this spring. 

In June, several FJSAAS members participated in the 2021 Joint Annual Conference of The Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), Agriculture, Food & Human Values Society (AFHVS), Canadian Association for Food Studies (CAFS) and Society for the Anthropology of Food & Nutrition (SAFN). The conference, held virtually and hosted by the Culinary Institute of America & New York University,  was titled ‘JUST FOOD: because it is never just food’. FJSAAS Members Colleen Hammelman, Charles Z. Levkoe and Kristin Reynolds organized a paper session called ‘The Role of Food Studies in Building a Radical Food Geography Praxis’. As a part of  the session, FJSAAS members Kristin Reynolds and Danny Block presented their paper (written with co-authors Colleen Hammelman, Brittany Jones, Jessica Gilbert and the late Hank Herrera) discussing the evolution of FJSAAS and its meanings for radical food geographies.  See the paper here: Reynolds, K., Block, D., Hammelman, C., Jones, B., Gilbert, J., and Herrera, H. 2020. Envisioning Radical Food Geographies: Shared Learning and Praxis through the Food Justice Scholar-Activist/Activist-Scholar Community of Practice. Special issue on radical food geographies in Human Geography 13(3), 277-292.

In July and August, the FJSAAS community of practice took an intentional rest period and did not hold monthly meetings. The Steering Committee (Danny Block, Carrie Freshour, Jessica Gilbert, Brittany Jones, Sahil Patni, and Kristin Reynolds)  remained active with strategic planning over the summer, and convened again in October to continue strategizing for the coming months and year of FJSAAS organization, leadership, and activities.

We are also pleased to share some recent publications by our members, related to food (and) justice scholarship and activism:

Dale, Bryan, 2021. Food Sovereignty and Agroecology Praxis in a Capitalist Setting: The Need for a Radical Pedagogy. The Journal of Peasant Studies, pp. 1-28. DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2021.1971653

ABSTRACT: This article analyzes the potential for anti-capitalist politics to ‘translate’ among food sovereignty proponents in Canada. I argue that a crucial tool for advancing food sovereignty and agroecology in the country will be radical pedagogy—and specifically political education efforts that advance both critical analyses of capitalism and prefigurative (post-capitalist) socio-economic arrangements. I offer a vision of a ‘praxis-pedagogy triad’ that illustrates how instances of agroecological prefiguration may relate to critical theories of capitalist political economy and the agrarian question, as well as radical pedagogies that will help a counter-hegemonic food sovereignty translate in a capitalist context.

A ‘praxis-pedagogy triad’ for advancing food sovereignty and agroecology (Dale 2021). 

Chennault, Carrie. 2021. “Relational Life: Lessons from Black Feminism on Whiteness and Engaging New Food Activism.” Antipode. https://doi.org/10.1111/anti.12775.

ABSTRACT: Critical food scholarship and BIPOC-led food activism are demanding government responsibility for developing equitable food systems, while contending with the failure of government to affirm Black and Brown lives. Heeding Black feminist calls for complex geographies, I trace the racial entanglements of food apartheid in daily life in Dubuque, Iowa, USA as they intersect with Growing Together, a community donation gardening program developed through federal nutrition education and state Cooperative Extension programs. Analysing interview data, I examine Growing Together’s lack of accountability for food apartheid in Dubuque, and I focus on radical strategies to disrupt racialised, taken for granted notions of city neighbourhoods as “with” and “without” food, knowledge, skills, or community character. Complex geographies reveal paths to reconfigure Growing Together around mutual interdependency and support of Black- and Brown-led collective struggles against a racist state, paths that ultimately demand the deep governmental transformations called for within racial justice movements.

Block, D. and Reynolds, K. (Equal authorship) 2021. Funding a Peoples’ Food Justice Geography? Community–Academic Collaborations as Geographic Praxis. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 111:6, 1705-1720, DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2020.1841603.

ABSTRACT: Community–academic collaborations that value experience-based knowledge alongside institutional ways of knowing have long been of interest in geography. In 1984, Harvey proposed a “peoples’ geography” that would integrate nonacademic knowledge into the field, increasing geography’s potential to help create a just world. Recent community–academic food justice collaborations have taken up this proposition through initiatives addressing issues from food access to dismantling racism, suggesting possibilities for a “peoples’ food justice geography.” Grant funding is often necessary for such work and might allow for more equitable participation or increase project reach but can necessitate redistribution of time spent on project activities, reinforce hierarchies, or be counterproductive to systemic change. If funding for community–academic food justice collaborations is to help create an inclusive and nonelitist geographic praxis, deeper understanding of its effects is essential. This article explores these possibilities. Drawing from an examination of the U.S. food funding landscape and field experiences in Chicago and New York, we show how funding, or lack thereof, can affect such collaborations. We argue that despite sustained debate about philanthropy and social change, with long-term vision, funding can advance food justice goals. We conclude with reflections on the relevance for a peoples’ food justice geography. Key Words: community–university collaborations, food justice, peoples’ geography, philanthropy, scholar-activism.

Reynolds, K. “Soberanía alimentaria en un contexto de violencia estructural: poder, escala y resolución en los Estados Unidos de América,” (Food sovereignty in the context of structural violence: power, scale, and resolve in the United States of America.) in the edited volume Justicia y soberanía alimentaria en las Américas. Desigualdades, alimentación y agricultura. Prunier et al., eds. (2020). UNAM; CEMCA; École Urbaine de Lyon; y Fundación Henrich Boëll. Fall 2021.

2. Monthly Meeting Highlights

By Sahil Patni

FJSAAS monthly meetings involve discussions of member projects, articles written by members and collaborators, and current events relevant to FJSAAS’ focus on the nexus of scholarship, activism, and geography. Meetings are facilitated in line with FJSAAS’ ongoing commitment to provide a safe meeting space for people from all backgrounds. This includes required suggesting anti-racist readings for white participants and announcing ‘safe space agreements’ in each meeting, to make attendees cognizant of their positionality, knowledge, perspectives, and assumptions during discussions.

Since the last blog published in June this year, four monthly meetings have been conducted covering various topics ranging from DJ Lynnée Denise’s concept of DJ scholarship to food sovereignty and the work of the Maryland Food & Prison Abolition Project.  The June meeting involved a discussion of  the article “The Afterlife of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Rock Steady:’ A Case Study in DJ Scholarship.” 2019 by DJ Lynée Denise in The Black Scholar, 49(3), 62-72.

It involved discussions of Denise’s method of tracing back the roots of melodies or sound samples through song credits – similar to using citations in academic literature – and uncovering the role of women in producing and shaping sound cultures. In September, we discussed the dissertation of FJSAAS Steering Committee member Dr. Jessica Gilbert, titled Food Justice Transitions: The Role of Values-based Approaches in Social Movements. Dr. Gilbert’s scholar-activist work used the Just Transition framework to build the Good Food Buffalo Coalition and bring the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) to Buffalo. We discussed ways in which her research influenced the coalitions’ efforts and vice versa, over the course of her research. It revealed the centrality of racial justice in addressing systemic issues, while advocating for a just food system through GFPP. 

In October, the group viewed the documentary “Nero’s Guests,” which covers the work of P. Sainath and his coverage of farmer suicides in India. The discussion revolved around the nature of work of investigative journalists vis-à-vis scholar-activists and activist-scholars; the proximity to on-ground action, role of credentials (PhDs), and legitimization of work in higher education institutions v/s news agencies. A critical and elaborate discussion during the FJSAAS meeting involved the overarching question of ‘how to avoid becoming Nero’s guests,’ as individuals, as organizations, or as a community of practice. The November  meeting, crossed over to the issue of food sovereignty in Maryland’s prisons in a live chat with Kanav Kathuria, from the Maryland Food & Prison Abolition Project (MFPAP). The project initiated as an activist project and transformed into a research exercise while exploring the carceral realities of food (in)justice in Maryland state prisons. From a research operationalization standpoint, FJSAAS members delved into discussions of gaining permissions and conducting research within the confines of prisons. The group also discussed ways in which MFPAP seeks to advance a shift in policy and / or narrative to create an abolitionist vision of tearing down the prison-industrial complex. December’s meeting (on December 17th) will feature a presentation by FJSAAS steering committee member and GFSAG Liason Dr. Brittany Jones speaking about her recent dissertation research on land accessibility for urban agriculture, a county land bank’s role within the local food system (Toledo and Dayton, Ohio), and the Black agrarian movement as a means of liberation in response to food apartheid and redlining. Check our webpage or email fjscholaractivists[at]gmail[dot]com for registration details.

FJSAAS meetings in 2021 covered a range of topics from FJSAAS members as well as guests. They provided fertile ground for engaging discussions on food justice, scholarship, and activism, offering value to attendees as well as presenters. FJSSAS seeks to continue bringing a diverse range of topics to our monthly sessions in 2022. We hope you will join us!

3. Member Spotlight

By Dr. Carrie Freshour, FJSAAS Steering Committee member

Hi yall. My name is Carrie Freshour. I’m a southerner, abolitionist, and assistant professor of Geography at the University of Washington- Seattle. I’m inspired by Black radical scholars and organic intellectuals like Clyde Woods, Grace and Jimmy Boggs, Bobby M. Wilson, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and W.E.B. DuBois. My life and heart’s work remain in the US South where I study food and agricultural labor, focusing on the poultry industry. Drawing on nearly three years of ethnographic fieldwork, I’m working on a book project, Making Life Work: Black Families, Racial Capitalism, and the Poultry Capital of the Worldwhich documents the lives and labors of intergenerational, largely Black “poultry families” in the production of cheap meat. I’m currently in Georgia also working on a collaborative documentary short by the same name, with executive producer Nicole Taylor, whose mother Ms. Janice worked in the plants for 35 years and videographer Kwamé Kang. I appreciate FJSAAS as a community and intellectual space of people dedicated to producing knowledge for, with, and by the people for a world where, in Gilmore’s words, “life is precious.”

That concludes our fall edition! Our next blog will be released in early 2022. If you would like to contribute content to future posts, please email fjscholaractivists [at] gmail.com for more information.

— Melody Lynch, Sahil Patni, and Kristin Reynolds, FJSAAS blog editors.