Category Archives: Members’ Work

Limited period free access to book

For a limited time, free access to the following publication has been granted. Please use this link to access Agri-environmental Governance as an Assemblage: Multiplicity, Power, and Transformation.

Edited by Jérémie Forney, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland, Chris Rosin, Lincoln University, New Zealand and Hugh Campbell, University of Otago, New Zealand

Series: Earthscan Food and Agriculture

Agri-environmental governance has become a highly complex assemblage of actors and instruments, with multiple interrelations. This book addresses this complexity, challenging research both at the theoretical and methodological levels. It draws on multiple theoretical and methodological insights, drawing on case studies from Asia, Europe and the Americas and develops a renewed approach of AEG practices as assemblages.

Publication flyer

Fair Food: Stories from a movement changing the world

Congratulations, Nick Rose, on the publication of Fair Food: Stories from a movement changing the world.

As described by the University of Queensland Press, Fair Food is an inspiring revolutionary book about the change happening here and now in Australia. Edited by Dr Nick Rose, this is the first book ever written about Australia’s fair food movement and tells the transformative stories of Australia’s food pioneers and change-makers. It is about the toxicologist who turned his Melbourne backyard into a food forest; the 3rd generation dairy farmer who lost everything and then became a champion of community supported agriculture; the mother turned GM food debunker; a vegetarian turned free-range pig farmer; and the countless new communities who’ve forged their own food networks, food plans and food futures.
Fair Food celebrates a new way of living, where the food, farmers and eaters come first, not the supermarkets and profits.

To purchase, please visit this website.

New publication – Food Utopias: Reimagining citizenship, ethics, and community

We congratulate Paul Stock, Michael Carolan and Christopher Rosin on the publication of their new book, Food Utopias: Reimagining citizenship, ethics, and community.

Routledge description:

Food is a contentious and emotive issue, subject to critiques from multiple perspectives. Alternative food movements – including the different articulations of local, food miles, seasonality, food justice, food knowledge and food sovereignty – consistently invoke themes around autonomy, sufficiency, cooperation, mutual aid, freedom, and responsibility.

In this stimulating and provocative book the authors link these issues to utopias and intentional communities. Using a food utopias framework presented in the introduction, they examine food stories in three interrelated and complementary ways: utopias as critique of existing systems; utopias as engagement with experimentation of the novel, the forgotten, and the hopeful in the future of the food system; and utopias as process that recognizes the time and difficulty inherent in changing the status quo.

The chapters address theoretical aspects of food utopias and also present case studies from a range of contexts and regions, including Argentina, Italy, Switzerland and USA. These focus on key issues in contemporary food studies including equity, locality, the sacred, citizenship, community and food sovereignty. Food utopias offers ways forward to imagine a creative and convivial food system.

New publication: Global Food Trade Beyond the ‘Standards’ Debate

Congratulations, Amely Bernzen, on the publication of your dissertation on organic value chains!


More and more products in western consumer markets today are imported, increasingly from developing countries. Yet, as distances to suppliers increase, monitoring and tracing product and process qualities along global supply chains back to the source have become increasingly challenging tasks for companies at the downstream end of the chain. Particularly importers risk legal sanctions or negative media coverage in case products are non-compliant with local requirements. The problem of uncertainty becomes even more urgent as highly specific quality designations come into play. The aim of this dissertation is to contribute to this discussion by providing an improved understanding of how formal and informal institutions – analysed in particular through a Convention Theory (CT) lens – are employed by importers of highly sensitive products in mitigating uncertainties in cross-border relations with their suppliers. This is achieved through a comparative empirical case study of firms importing certified organic food into Germany and Australia. Article 1 in this collection, “‘Sustainable Standards’? How Organic Standards in the EU and Australia Affect Local and Global Agrifood Production and Value Chains”, contributes to literature on food and environmental standards and discusses the impact of (supra-)national organic standards effective in Germany and Australia on different actors along the value chain. Article 2, “Reassessing Supplier Reputation in International Trade Coordination. A German and Australian perspective of Global Organic Food Networks”, deals with the multiple facets of reputation in international trade relations and how it can help to mitigate uncertainties across large distances. Article 3, “Conventions in Cross-Border Trade Coordination. The Case of Organic Food Imports to Germany and Australia”, provides a comprehensive discussion of which conventions within the CT framework are employed by Australian and German importers to overcome quality-related uncertainties in cross-border trade. The final Article 4, “Australien als ‘Global Food Superpower’? Landwirtschaft und Lebensmittelsektor Australiens im Wandel” (Global food superpower? Changes and current challenges in Australia’s food industry), looks at Australia as a case of the changing global character of agricultural and food production and trade, using a value chain perspective to outline these processes. Furthermore, it discusses how the unique Australian environmental situation, related natural risks, and political as well as structural factors currently question Australia’s future as the next Global Food Superpower. Overall, the empirical results affirm that formal institutions such as standards and third-party certification have gained increasing significance over the past two decades. Simultaneously, however, this study argues that these are not enough to overcome uncertainties in trade. Informal institutions like trust, reputation, values related to social and environmental welfare as well as business mentality and culture are likewise approaches that are employed. It is further shown that standards do not necessarily lead to reduced differences in product quality perceptions between suppliers and importers. Also, there seem to be changes in the interpretation of the organic designation, as particularly newer firms reduce the process standard more and more to product quality characteristics. At the same time, ‘dedicated’ companies with intensive holistic supplier relation management, unlike some decades ago, are not restricted to those that focus only on organic products. Conceptually, it is concluded that CT is a useful complementary approach to other frameworks for value chain and production network analyses, particularly due to its strengths to paint a differentiated picture of uncertainty as well as quality designations.

Her dissertation can be downloaded here.

New Book announcement

Congratulations also to Kiah Smith who has published a new book, Ethical Trade, Gender and Sustainable Livelihoods: Women Smallholders and Ethicality in Kenya

Fair and ethical trade is often criticized for being highly gendered, and for institutionalizing the ethical values of consumers, the priorities of NGOs and governments, and most of all, food retailers. But little is known about how women smallholder farmers experience diverse ethical standards, or whether and how standards reflect their values, local cultural and environmental contexts, or priorities for achieving sustainable livelihoods.

Linking gender, smallholder livelihoods and global ethical trade regulations, this book reveals that multiple understandings of social justice, environmental sustainability and well-being – or ethicality – exist in parallel to those institutionalized in ethical trade schemes. Through an in-depth case study of smallholder subsistence and French bean farming in Kenya, the book grounds the analysis of livelihoods, gender and ethical trade in women smallholders’ perspectives, links the macro level of markets with the micro level of livelihoods, and engenders relations of power, structure and agency in food networks. It brings together disparate bodies of theory to illustrate the knowledge, strategies and values of women smallholder farmers that are often beyond the scope of ethical trade regulations. It also provides a challenging new vision for doing food systems research.

New Book announcement

A big congratulations to Claire Nettle who has produced a shiny new book on community gardening!
Community Gardening as Social Action
Claire Nettle
Series : Transforming Environmental Politics and Policy: 2

There has been a resurgence of community gardening over the past decade with a wide range of actors seeking to get involved, from health agencies aiming to increase fruit and vegetable consumption to radical social movements searching for symbols of non-capitalist ways of relating and occupying space. Community gardens have become a focal point for local activism in which people are working to contribute to food security, question the erosion of public space, conserve and improve urban environments, develop technologies of sustainable food production, foster community engagement and create neighbourhood solidarity.

Drawing on in-depth case studies and social movement theory, Claire Nettle provides a new empirical and theoretical understanding of community gardening as a site of collective social action. This provides not only a more nuanced and complete understanding of community gardening, but also highlights its potential challenges to notions of activism, community, democracy and culture.

Contents: Community gardening: from leisure to social action; Garden views: seeing community gardens as sites of social change; Theorising collective action; Community gardening as activism; In the garden; Growing community; Creation: the politics of direct action and prefiguration; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author: Claire Nettle PhD is a community food systems researcher and consultant.

Reviews: ‘By showing that community gardening is often a deeply political act this book offers a profound challenge to dominant accounts of social movement activism. Nettle shows that community gardening is more than a cultural challenge and does not mean a retreat from real politics, rather it is a specific form of prefigurative activism intended to build communities anew. It is essential reading for all those with an interest in a deeper understanding of the relationship between activist strategies and everyday life practices.’
Brian Doherty, Keele University, UK