Towards a geographic theory of food sovereignty in the United States

01 January 2013
Paper

Food sovereignty identifies the state and capital as complicit in the inequities and injustices in the corporate food regime, including and especially the alienation between producers from consumers. Among food sovereignty’s many demands, is a call to a return power and control in the food system to producers and consumers through decentering the power of transnational capital. The literature on food sovereignty lacks engagement with theories of sovereignty as an explanatory resource, and thus strategies to achieve its aims may lack key insights into political power.

Food sovereignty identifies the state and capital as complicit in the inequities and injustices in the corporate food regime, including and especially the alienation between producers from consumers. Among food sovereignty’s many demands, is a call to a return power and control in the food system to producers and consumers through decentering the power of transnational capital. The literature on food sovereignty lacks engagement with theories of sovereignty as an explanatory resource, and thus strategies to achieve its aims may lack key insights into political power. I draw on the insights of post-structuralist social theorists, political geography and anthropologists on political sovereignty to engage the practitioners, theoreticians and supporters of food sovereignty in a discussion of the implications of their political practices. I position food sovereignty within a framework of geographic thought as a partial, temporary and contested territorial claim as an insurgent assertion of autonomy in space. The paper concludes by positing a theoretical frame for future research on food sovereignty in geography.

Amy Trauger is Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Georgia, Athens Dr. Trauger’s work has focused on women farmers, sustainable agriculture and the alternativeness of alternative agriculture. She now is pursuing a research trajectory in food sovereignty and is currently working on the book “We Want Land to Live”: Space, Territory and the Politics of Food Sovereignty to be published by UGA Press in the Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation Series.

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