Agrarian Studies Conference


Food Sovereignty: A Critical Dialogue

September 14–15, 2013
Yale University
Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Ave.

  1. Conference Home (this page)
  2. Call for submissions
  3. Registration
  4. Schedulenow available
  5. Location and Directions
  6. Speakers & paper authors/presenters
  7. Conference papers
  8. Abstracts of papers
  9. Partners
  10. Instructions for presenters
  11. Useful links and references
  12. Conference Contacts
  13. Short bios of authors, speakers, chairs, & organizers

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.

Sponsored by the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University and the Journal of Peasant Studies, the conference “Food Sovereignty: A Critical Dialogue” will be held at Yale University on September 14–15, 2013. The event will bring together leading scholars and political activists who are advocates of and sympathetic to the idea of food sovereignty, as well as those who are skeptical to the concept of food sovereignty to foster a critical and productive dialogue on the issue. The purpose of the meeting is to examine what food sovereignty might mean, how it might be variously construed, and what policies (e.g. of land use, commodity policy, and food subsidies) it implies. Moreover, such a dialogue aims at exploring whether the subject of food sovereignty has an “intellectual future” in critical agrarian studies and, if so, on what terms.

The keynote addresses will be given by Paul Nicholson (La Via Campesina), Teodor Shanin (The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences), Bina Agarwal (Manchester University), and Olivier de Schutter (UN Rapporteur for the Right to Food). The address of the last-mentioned is titled “Food Sovereignty and Peasant's Rights: The Quest for Autonomy.”

This year is also the 20th anniversary of La Via Campesina and the 40th anniversary of the Journal of Peasant Studies, which makes such a critical dialogue all the more timely.