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Theorizing food justice : critical positionality and the political economy of community food systems

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Item Summary

Title: Theorizing food justice : critical positionality and the political economy of community food systems
Authors: Lukens, Ashley Barbara
Keywords: Politics of food
Issue Date: Aug 2013
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2013]
Abstract: Organized around three spheres of engagement-the community, the economy, and politics-this dissertation examines how critical positionality is driving the formation of intentional communities rooted in difference. It offers three primary contributions to the discussion of alternative agrifood movements and contemporary resistance to neoliberalism: 1) The concept of critical positionality, as a way of recognizing and conceptualizing the destabilization of identity within a practical context where identity and difference still matter; 2) A non-capitalist reading of food justice work, showing how organizational strategies for financial sustainability tactically engage the neoliberal system while at the same time creating an alternative; 3) a theory of tactics, applied to the political realm through an examination of food policy councils, offering tactical policy activism as a possible orientation for food justice organizations who need to engage the state.
First it examines what critical positionality looks like in the context of concrete organizational action, both internally and through community outreach and engagement. Examining the core conceptual features of 'community' within food justice work, it lays out an everyday politics of difference as the onto-political grounds for a new political economy. Then, it shows how critical positionality frames the strategies of food justice organizations' struggle for economic viability, arguing that the themes of social entrepreneurialism, worker empowerment, and community-focused economic growth should be understood as non-capitalist. The economic activism of food justice work hybridizes the possibilities within capitalism, eschewing its exploitative relations while at the same time understanding the power it nevertheless has to shape communities. Finally, it analyze the role of critical positionality in driving the formation and the critique of food policy councils. Just like the non-capitalist economic strategies of food justice organizations, I build upon the strategies of Kanaka Maoli with the State of Hawaiʻi, and through the case study of Legalize Paʻiʻai, show how tactical policy activism offers a way for structurally disempowered groups to engage the state without simultaneously endorsing the legitimacy of that state or having their work co-opted.
By suggesting that individuals and organizations can affect meaningful change within the system while at the same time working day to day to transform it, this dissertation uses the food justice movement as an opportunity to envision pathways towards a more just and sustainable world by identifying the spaces where such a world is already being enacted in the here and now.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Political Science

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