At a time when agriculture is more likely to be grasped in terms of speculative investment than common good, food has become a powerful prism for grappling with the logics by which power circulates in the world.
Over two days in mid-June IPCS joined with the Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University to co-host an international workshop Global food supply chains in a world on the edge. Sponsored by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, the workshop was planned as a convivial activity at Curzon Street, but was unfortunately forced onto Zoom in response to Melbourne’s most recent lockdown. Despite the extended time stuck in front of our screens, we enjoyed lively and engaging discussions over a set of 18 pre-circulated papers.
Participants were drawn from across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the US. Lauren Rickards and Melinda Hinkson presented a paper drawing on observations from the early phase of the IPCS project. All responded to a provocation to take the upheaval of the pandemic as a springboard from which to explore the larger set of structural, environmental and political fault lines running through the global food system. Working from diverse perspectives, we agreed that at a time when agriculture is more likely to be grasped in terms of speculative investment than common good, food has become a powerful prism for grappling with the logics by which power circulates in the world. Attention to food, we agreed, sheds light on the complex workings and failures of colonial-capitalism, on the reproduction of hunger and structural exclusion, and on alternate regimes of value that would anchor food and feeding back firmly on the ground.
A special highlight of the workshop was the generous and provocative commentary presented by anthropologist Alex Blanchette, author of Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardised Life and the Factory Farm (Duke University Press, 2020). Courtesy of our shared Zoom recordings Alex was able to watch the first day’s discussions after the rest of us had gone to bed and compose a response with which to greet us the following morning. Melinda and Victoria Stead are now collating revised papers for an edited book arising out of the workshop, for which we are pursuing open access publication.
In coming weeks Melinda and Lauren will venture out into regional Victoria to continue their primary research on the Future of Food project.Back to top