Food Sovereignty in Everyday Life: A People-Centered Approach to Food Systems

01 January 2013

This paper presents outlines of a theoretical approach to food systems that attempts to decenter “food” in food-related research, placing social life as the central point of departure for a critical analysis of food systems and the search for revolutionary alternatives.

“Food,” in this framework, is conceived relationally, as a “nodal point of interconnection” (Massey 1994) through which multiple historical, spatial, and social processes intersect and articulate with one another. If “race…is the modality by which class is lived” (Hall 1980), then food is a modality by which capitalism is lived, and made tangible in everyday practice. Revisiting the concepts of primitive accumulation (Perelman 2000), articulation (Hall 1980), and everyday life (Lefebvre 1991), this approach examines the ways in which proletarianization is continually reproduced, increasingly partial or incomplete, and contested at multiple conjunctures. In these moments of contestation, and the spaces that partial primitive accumulation leaves behind, new articulations - visible in the everyday social experience of food - can contain certain potentialities for real alternatives to life under capitalism.

Ph.D. student in Geography, University of California, Berkeley Meleiza Figueroa’s current research is concerned with how food practices of rural-urban migrants shapes urban space in Brazil’s favelas. She holds a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies from UCLA, and a Master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago.

Food Sovereignty: a critical dialogue, 14 - 15 September, New Haven.