Last week at the Annual Meeting of the AAG in New Orleans, Eugene and Nathan presented at a paper session entitled "Towards Integrated Food Systems Governance", organized by Charles Levkoe and Luke Craven. Our presentation, entitled "Beyond food: Rethinking governance through urban agriculture", drew on an article manuscript currently under preparation for submission to Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. Here's a revised abstract:
While urban agriculture (UA) has played a prominent symbolic and material role in municipal sustainability efforts, many UA advocates and scholars are questioning UA’s ability to deliver on its promised contributions to food systems and urban greening. Advocates in Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC are demanding greater equity and inclusivity, as well as more radical calls for decolonization and the indigenization of food systems. Many use UA to address social issues beyond food. In this paper we ask: How can using ‘everyday governance’ as a lens help us to understand UA and its contested role within cities? And how does studying the governance of UA, in particular, contribute to our conceptualization of governance more generally? Drawing on interview and survey data collected in the two cities, we observe that municipal attempts to domesticate UA have generated new discontents, fueling efforts to look beyond institutional governance structures. We identify three primary dimensions of UA’s transformation -- space, content, and process -- but also note that translation of these changes into formal spheres of governance appears to be minimal, stymied both by a lack of race/ethnic/class diversity in public engagement processes, and by bureaucratic hurdles and political gatekeeping. We conclude that the concept of everyday governance sheds light on the limits and possibilities of UA’s role as a gateway to justice work, not only within integrated food policy, but also within wider-reaching, equity-oriented social policy.
You can download a PDF of our powerpoint presentation here.