Activist Scholarship

Food Justice Scholar-Activist/Activist-Scholar Community of Practice

Food justice scholarship and activism have evolved alongside each other, and at times have been intertwined, over the past decade. At times there are clear distinctions between “scholarly” and “activist” activities in this realm. However, often, individuals, groups, and their actions take on characteristics of both. Recognizing and building upon these dynamics is important in strengthening the effectiveness of food justice work. These topics are of direct and historical relevance to the field of geography, both theoretically and practically.

Since 2014, a small-but-growing group of individuals interested in the intersections between food justice scholarship and activism have met at the annual American Association of Geographers meetings to begin to create a community of practice.

The AAG sessions have been sponsored each year by the Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, and, in some years, by additional AAG specialty groups.

As a community of practice, we are focused on:

  • the meaning and scalability of “food justice” (in urban and rural spaces), as both a paradigm and material goal;
  • productive questioning of the dichotomy between activist and scholar;
  • recognition of experience-based food systems expertise in a variety of settings (e.g., community; academia; policy making);
  • the potential roles of academics/academic work in advancing food justice.

Building on themed conference sessions and field trips that we have organized at AAG meetings since 2014, and with a special issue on food justice scholar-activism in the open-access journal ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies in progress, we met again at the 2018 AAG meetings in New Orleans, LA to continue cultivating this working group. Our name, “Food Justice Scholar-Activists/Activist-Scholars Community of Practice,” reflects our commitment to breaking down dichotomies that we feel reinforce power imbalances with respect to activist and expert. See past sessions here.


At the 2017 meeting we established the following working goals:

  • Sharing learning based on experiences connecting food justice activism and scholarship;
  • Creating pathways for on-the-ground activists and scholar-activists to collaborate to improve conditions in the food system;
  • Critically examining and questioning the role of academics in defining reality through writing and other scholarly activities;
  • Building upon existing theoretical work on the intersections between theory and practice, including in feminist, (post)marxist, critical race, indigenous, environmental justice, and social movement scholarship, as well as geography, as we move forward with evolving food justice work.

Our intent is to support collaboration among a broad diversity of actors in the food system, through the lens of geography and other fields, and help to strengthen the integrity of both food justice scholarship and activism.


Kristin Reynolds, The New School/independent scholar


Remote: Beginning in summer 2017, we are holding regular video/conference calls through which we will continue to build our work together. The meetings are open to all, including community-based activists, independent scholars, academics, and professional geographers.

Please contact Kristin Reynolds to find out about the next meeting. See the email address below.

In person: We also meet at AAG meetings each year. In 2019, we will meet at the AAG conference in Washington D.C. on April 4, from 5-6:40 pm. Additionally, we are co-hosting the Radical Food Geographies, full day pre-AAG conference that will take place in D.C. on April 2. See the Events page for further details.

We may also meet at other conferences throughout the year that are related to our goals.

Questions about this group or how to join our next meeting can be emailed to: