Tag Archives: Seminars

Call for Papers – Constructions, representations, productions: Exploring historical and contemporary imaginations of land

22 – 24 March 2018
Venue: Collaborative Research Centre 1199, University of Leipzig
Convenors: Michaela Böhme & Sarah Ruth Sippel

Recent transformations in the global food system have drawn renewed attention to questions of land control and land use. Precipitated by the convergent crises of food, fuel, and finance since 2007/08, land is today at the centre of conflicting visions about the future of food and farming. New imaginations of land are emerging, accompanied by, and resulting in, shifting notions of land use and value. Three dynamics in particular illustrate the new imaginations of land: the large-scale acquisitions of farmland (often referred to as the global “land rush”) by governments and corporations driven by concerns over scarce and finite natural resources; the construction of land as a new asset class by financial actors looking for new sources of profit; and the growing use of digital farming methods such as Internet data and satellite images to increase farmland productivity and output. The realization and putting into practice of these imaginations are highly consequential for the novel ways in which land is being reconstructed, appropriated, and used. At the same time, new visions of how to utilize and engage with land do not emerge from within a vacuum; they are embedded in historical contexts.

Throughout history, perceptions and conceptualizations of land have affected land relationships and land use regimes. These histories have tangible meanings and implications for contemporary land relations. By bringing together contemporary and historical perspectives on the multiple and shifting imaginations of land, this workshop seeks to investigate the ruptures and continuities in the ways people have conceived of and interacted with land.

Two perspectives will be of special importance for this purpose. First, environmental history offers important tools for analyzing environmental narratives and their material impacts on nature and society. Often situated within colonial contexts, these histories trace how specific views about land were constructed and mobilized to promote colonial interests in the name of improvement, civilization, and conservation while disenfranchising local peoples and their local understandings of the environment. Many of these narratives are carried over into the present and continue to inform agricultural practices and land regimes in these regions. Second, perspectives from political ecology, combined with insights from science and technology studies (STS), are useful to understand how (contemporary) knowledge about nature and land is produced, applied, and circulated. Emphasizing the social construction of nature, these perspectives help to detect how divergent knowledge claims about land are produced at the intersection of politics, science, and new technologies.

By combining historical, contemporary, and emerging perspectives on land, the workshop seeks to explore how land is and has been produced, represented, appropriated, and used across different regional and historical contexts. To this end, the workshop addresses three interlinked perspectives on land imaginations:

Continuity and rupture: As a product of social practices, imaginations of land are shaped by evolving political and economic prerogatives, emerging technological possibilities, and a changing repertoire of social rules and norms. To unpack and disentangle continuity and ruptures in land imaginations, the workshop asks several questions: How have different actors across diverse regional and temporal contexts shaped notions around land use and land control? Which materials and processes did they employ in constructing such notions? And do we see a continuous development towards enclosure, commodification, and financialization, or are there ruptures allowing for alternative visions of land relations to be realized?

Power and durability: Imaginations of land are multifaceted as well as act as drivers. While some imaginations become enduring, hegemonic, and highly significant for the organization of agriculture and food in society, others remain local and marginalized. To shed light on the power and durability of notions about land use and control the workshop asks the following questions: How do imaginations of land acquire force and durability across different scales from the local to the global? What role do environmental narratives and myths play in this context? And which processes are required to stabilize, formalize, and institutionalize imaginations of land?

Contestations and negotiations: Imaginations of land are contested and riddled with tensions. How are we to make sense of simultaneous processes of land assetization, digitalizing of agriculture, and notions of food and land sovereignty? How are these conflicting imaginations of land negotiated across global and local contexts? And how are they shaping the way land is struggled over?

The workshop aims at bringing together researchers from various disciplines with a keen interest in land and human-nature relations, including historians, critical geographers, anthropologists, political ecologists, and STS scholars. We look for innovative and empirically grounded as well as conceptual contributions. Funds will be available to support participants presenting invited talks. You are invited to submit an abstract of 300 words by 31 October 2017 to michaelaboehme@uni-leipzig.de.

The workshop is part of the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB1199): “Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition” at the University of Leipzig. It will take place in Leipzig from 22 to 24 March 2018.

Monash Food Security Group Seminar: Sustainable Food Systems

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, agriculture not only works to meet humanity’s basic needs for food, fuel and fibre, but provides an essential source of livelihood for 2.5 billion rural households around the globe. Yet, factors such as population expansion, increased urbanisation, scarcity of arable land, environmental degradation, volatile global food prices, and poor resource management have created an environment where these needs, and the livelihoods that are dependent upon meeting them, are increasingly under threat. Conscious ofThe Future We Want and the 2015 global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, the demand for sustainable approaches to agriculture has never been more pressing.

Building on the continued work of the Monash Food Security Group, the aim of this seminar is to explore the approaches that are being employed to meet the growing demand for sustainable agriculture. By drawing on a diversity of academic and practical perspectives, this symposium seeks to explore the  concept of agricultural sustainability in production, business, and consumption. In doing so, featured speakers will draw on case studies of the Philippines, India, and Australia, and explore themes of agroecology, food security, and food sovereignty. In particular, focus is drawn to the increasing democratisation that is occurring in the governance of sustainable agriculture from the private sector, NGOs, and global civil society.

Date: 2nd November 2016

Time: 10am – 1pm followed by lunch

Venue: N1.03, Building N, Caulfield Campus


To reserve your place at this free event please email Lachlan Gregory by Friday 28 October, 2016.

Morning tea and a light lunch will be provided. Please indicate if you have dietary requirements for catering purposes.

Forum on Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems

The Australian National University is hosting a forum on healthy and sustainable food systems on the 24th of November 2015.

This forum will lay out what can and needs to be done by consumers, food industry, government and the not for-profit sectors to shape a healthy and sustainable food system for Australia based on empirical findings from two complementary Australian Research Council funded environmental sustainability – nutrition research projects: “FOODPRINT” and “SUSTAIN”.

Speakers and facilitators include:
Ms Susan Helyar, ACOSS ACT
Ms Melissa Cameron, Dairy Australia
Dr Lisa Studdert, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Health
Ms Genevieve Jacobs, ABC Radio
Prof Sharon Friel, RegNet, The Australian National University
Prof Mark Lawrence, Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University

Registration is online through ANU

Journal articles of interest

Kirsten Valentine Cadieux and Rachel Slocum. 2015. What does it mean to do food justice? Journal of Political Ecology 22: 1-26.

Rachel Slocum and Kirsten Valentine Cadieux 2015. Notes on the practice of food justice in the U.S.: understanding and confronting trauma and inequity. Journal of Political Ecology 22:  27-52.

Dana E. Powell 2015.  The rainbow is our sovereignty: rethinking the politics of energy on the Navajo Nation. Journal of Political Ecology 22:  53-78.

Thomas J. Conte. 2015. The effects of China’s grassland contract policy on Mongolian herders’ attitudes towards grassland management in northeastern Inner Mongolia. Journal of Political Ecology 22:  79-97.

Gian Carlo Delgado-Ramos. 2015. Water and the political ecology of urban metabolism: the case of Mexico City. Journal of Political Ecology 22:  98-114.

NIRRA Seminar Series – “Food Security in Australia: Recent data and emerging challenges”

14th June 2012, 4-5pm

Manning Clark Theatre 6, Union Court, ANU


Professor Stewart Lockie

Dr. Juliet Pietsch

Food security in the developed world is generally conceptualized and measured in terms of peoples’ financial ability to afford adequate and nutritious food. This seminar will present data collected through ANU Poll in mid-2011. It suggests that the most widely cited estimates of food insecurity in Australia are likely to underestimate the magnitude of the problem, finding that 13-16% of adult Australians experience some food insecurity and 4-8% can be considered severely food insecure.

Low levels of education, responsibility for children and low incomes are all negatively associated with household food security. Yet issues of social equity and inclusion attract little attention in public debates over food security in Australia. Growing interest in food security as a matter of political and policy concern over recent years would appear to have more to do with the combined effects of recent extreme weather events, accelerating foreign acquisitions of agricultural land and uncertainty over the magnitude and timing of future climate change impacts. This seminar will assess both the existing data on household-level food insecurity and future challenges to food security at the national level in more detail.

Speaker Bio

Stewart Lockie is Professor and Head of the School of Sociology at the Australian National University. His research addresses numerous aspects of sustainability in relation to food production and consumption, natural resource management policy and sustainable supply chain governance. Recent publications include the coedited volumes Risk and Social Theory in Environmental Management (2012, CSIRO Publishing) and Agriculture, Biodiversity and Markets: Livelihoods and Agroecology in Comparative Perspective (2010, Earthscan).

Dr Juliet Pietsch is a senior lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations. She has a particular interest in comparative immigration politics and public opinion. In addition to the ANU Poll, Juliet is currently involved as a chief investigator on the 2010 Australian Election Study and the World Values Survey.

Date and Time: 

14 June 2012 – 4:00pm – 5:00pm


Manning Clark Theatre 6
Union Court, ANU
ACT, Australia
More information can be found here

Plants and the future of global food security

For Fascination of Plants Day 2012, the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI), the Global Change Institute (GCI) and the UQ Faculty of Science hosted a lecture by Julian Cribb.

“Feeding 10 billion people sustainably in the mid-late 21st century is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. While food demand will double by 2060, scarcities are emerging of almost all resources required to satisfy it. This challenges us to rethink food itself and how we produce it, and to create diets and foods for the future that are safe, healthy, nutritious and tread less heavily on the planet. The role of plants in this will be absolutely critical and the opportunities enormous.”

Julian Cribb’s talk begain with an overview of a “constellation of limitations”, including peak oil, water, soil, phosphate and land. In the face of such a dire prognosis for global food supply Julian highlighted opportunities that may be found amongst these threats. Arguably focusing on a technocratic vision of solving future crises, key components of potential solutions included urban renewal and design, and greater fudning fro R&D. However, case studies included vat grown sausage for general protein needs, and large-scale algae farms that could provide new sources of fuel. Questioned as to consumer’s willingness to eat such types of food it was argued that no-one knows what’s in their pie or sausage roll anyway. Alongside these contentious possibilities lay some fascinating facts about plants. With a global catalogue of some 26,000 known edible plants it was wondered what “food fashions” could drive consumer awareness, and with it demand and production. Are consumers expected to be both more knowledgable yet blissfully ignorant when told to?

The full lecture can be found here.