Rowman and Littlefield International
Hardback 9781786600967
£80.00 €112.00 $120.00
Ebook 9781786600981
£23.99 €33.99 $34.99
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Over the past 25 years, activists, farmers and scholars have been arguing that the industrialized global food system erodes democracy, perpetuates injustices, undermines population health and is environmentally unsustainable. In an attempt to resist these effects, activists have proposed alternative food networks that draw on ideas and practices from pre-industrial agrarian smallholder farming, as well as contemporary peasant movements.

This book uses current debates over Michel Foucault’s method of genealogy as a practice of critique and historical problematization of the present to reveal the historical constitution of contemporary alternative food discourses. While alternative food activists appeal to food sovereignty and agrarian discourses to counter the influence of neoliberal agricultural policies, these discourses remain entangled with colonial logics. In particular, the influence of Enlightenment ideas of improvement, colonial practices of agriculture as a means to establish ownership, and anthropocentric relations to the land. In combination with the genealogical analysis, this book brings continental political philosophy into conversation with Indigenous theories of sovereignty and alternative food discourse in order to open new spaces for thinking about food and politics in contemporary Australia.
Introduction: beach barbeques, dispossession and problematization / 1. Cultivating sovereignty: agriculture, racism, and the problem of settling Australia / 2. Producing ‘Little England’: farmers, graziers, and the creation of home / 3. Alternative problems, alternative solutions: security and sovereignty in the global food system / 4. Whiteness and the contested spaces of alternative food / 5. Unsettling food sovereignty in Australia / 6. Whose sovereignty? Competing sovereignties and the tactical return to rights / 7. Negotiating relations: food politics after the Uluru Statement from the Heart / Bibliography / Index
Mayes’ book is an important and, yes, unsettling reminder that in the Australian context, too, a return to smallholder farming as an antidote to the world’s food woes, is a return to an imaginary thick with dispossession and unfree labour.
Julie Guthman, Professor of Social Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz
Christopher Mayes is a DECRA Research Fellow in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University and Research Affiliate with Sydney Health Ethics at the University of Sydney.

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