Friday, April 27, 2012

Week 15 alternative economies

May 1-3
Alternative economies

   Gowan, Teresa, Rachel Slocum and Jack Atmore. Forthcoming.
   Practicing Plenitude in the Aude, France. In Practicing Plenitude.
   Ed. Juliet Schor. New Haven, Yale University Press.

      This is a draft chapter for a collection edited by Juliet Schor. In Plenitude, Schor suggests that the 'Business-As-Usual' (BAU) economy (growth at all costs) is undermining society and the environment. She proposes a different way of thinking and doing economic life, plenitude. Go to the above website and learn about her critique of BAU and her proposal. In her new collection, Schor has gathered examples in which people are putting plenitude into practice. Many of those case studies are directly or indirectly concerned with food. The draft chapter you'll read takes you to a part of southern France called the Aude where people are involved in creating an 'alternative economy' based on cooperation and the exchange of goods outside the market.  In French society there is a movement against an economy oriented around growth, an idea that one actually hears discussed in the public arena, unlike in the US (see poster left).

     Discuss Schor's ideas and the example we provide.  What makes these plenitudinous economies possible in the Aude? What would need to happen here to enable them?


Friday, April 20, 2012

Week 14 Bending the bars of empire

Bending the bars of empire 
Holt-Gimenez, Eric. 2011 Food Security, Food Justice, or Food Sovereignty? Crises, Food Movements, and Regime Change in Alison Alkon and Julian Ageyman (eds). Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability, Cambridge, MIT Press. 309-330.
Heynen, Nik. 2009. Bending the bars of empire from every ghetto for survival: the Black Panther Party’s radical antihunger politics of social reproduction and scale. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 99(2): 406 - 422.

Listen to this short podcast from WHYY's Fresh Air  called Welfare Overhaul's Impact On America's Poorest. Read the two articles and write one blog relating the material in each piece to each other and to the class.  

We hear a lot about local food and weight gain but not so much about hunger.Yet food stamp use is rising in the US and climbing costs globally have priced food out of reach of the most vulnerable.  Without food, ultimately, we die. Without sufficient food we can't think well, make good decisions or relax. 

 Nik Heynen refers to social reproduction which means how people live from day to day in a way that allows them to meet their needs for food, education, child care, health care and housing. In the household, women are largely responsible for social reproduction--cleaning, shopping, washing, cooking, caring--all of which enable the survival of the household and the capacity of a worker to return to the job everyday. The BPP breakfast program was launched for the purpose of survival because the right to eat (see quote 411) was not recognized for the poor and people of color. Think about that word, survival. Heynen talks about how the program created a space not only in terms of that space, the food on the fork, but the church becomes a revolutionary space where the African American community created freedom. Women's involvement in the deeply patriarchal BPP pushed forward the agenda of food as a necessary part of the revolution. The state saw the Breakfast Program as a threat. Don't get bogged down in his discussions of Marx, Lefebvre and scale. Learn why the BPP's breakfast program was important--get the big picture.

 Eric Holt-Gimenez covers some material you've seen before. Remind yourself why terms like neoliberalism and accumulation by dispossession are relevant to the study of food. Understand the difference among food security, justice and sovereignty. Show that you understand the link between hunger and capitalism.  Explain the relationship between hunger on a global scale and food insecurity in the US.  

Everyone you've read has talked about root causes, something both these authors do as well. What I've asked you to do is to try to understand these root causes of food system inequalities first and then analyze responses from the perspective of how they address root causes. The responses you are looking at for your papers include: food stamps and other means to confront food insecurity, government regulation of arsenic and medical responsibility for patients, gardening, endocrine disruptors, changing university food service, local food procurement by Wal-Mart and local food as a response to climate change. What would food sovereignty mean in the context of your topic? How would the precautionary principle (Harrison) be applied toward environmental justice in your case?

Due by Saturday 28th