Special Issue "Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Steven Hartman
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
School of Education, Culture and Communication, Malardalen University, 721 23 Västerås, Sweden
Interests: Integrated Environmental Humanities; Literary Studies; Critical Sustainability Studies; Sustainability Communication and Education; Climate Change Mitigation; Climate Policy and Action
Dr. Parker Krieg
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Helsinki Institute for Sustainability Science, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki. Unioninkatu 40, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
Interests: American Literature; Cultural Studies; Environmental Humanities
Dr. Lea Rekow
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
BifrostOnline/Green My Favela, 9264 Kincaid Court, Sanibel, FL 33957, USA
Interests: Informality & The Right to the City; Urban Agriculture & Reclamation of Toxic Land; Environmental Humanities & Climate Change; Peace & Justice Studies; Media & Communications; Arts & Technology; Capacity-building & Activism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In January 2019, the EAT-Lancet commission released a two-year study on “Food in the Anthropocene,” arguing that “civilization is in crisis,” and that the urgent need for both healthy diets and balanced planetary resources not come at the expense of accelerating trends which are unprecedented in human history (Lucas and Horton 2019). The global food regime is a matter of growing concern within the urgent horizons of climate change and biodiversity loss, among other critical planetary challenges. Not only do carbon dioxide emissions from global food production and distribution rival those of the transportation sector, but agricultural production is responsible for chemical build-up in freshwater systems, intensified deforestation, topsoil loss, habitat loss and associated species extinction.  At the same time, agricultural practices associated with maximizing crop yields to meet the requirements of industrial-scale food production and market targets face increased vulnerability to pests and disease. According to one recent study, the significant rise in global atmospheric methane levels from 2007-2014 marks a trend dominated by increased biogenic emissions from agricultural sources (ruminants and rice paddies) (Nisbet, et al. 2016).

As meat remains a dietary mainstay in many industrialized nations, topics such as resource use and abuse, cruelty to animals, ethical preferences, nutrition and public health, supply chains and availability of food become central to questions of sustainability. Food and foodstuffs play into local, national and international economic systems as traded commodities and consumer products, but one of the principal ways people encounter food is through culture, just as one of the key ways food impacts people’s lives is through dietary impacts on public health as these play our at various levels in society (individually and as structured by class, gender, ethnicity, nationality and culture). It can be argued that the disconnects between these levels of abstraction and daily lived reality are themselves central to the challenges and crises in which Food in the broadest categorical sense is fundamental. Disciplinary scholarship within many fields of humanistic inquiry, as well as border-crossing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research prominently anchored in humanities disciplines, can help to usher in new understandings and approaches to study of food cultures and how these play out in numerous socio-environmental challenges locally, regionally and globally.

 

We ask:

What role can or does culture play in transforming the relations between societal challenges and environmental crises where food is a central factor?

How can new food systems be developed that hold greater promise of sustainability than the dominant global system at present?

Are there limits to local consumption practices, new and old, that prevent them from making a difference at national and international scales? If so, what are these limits? 

 

The aim of this special issue is to explore how cultural inquiry into food contributes to the critical imagination and implementation of sustainability. We want to consider specific ways in which the humanities (in conversation with social sciences, natural sciences, technical and medical fields, and the arts) can enable global achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or how they might cast a salutary critical light on the limitations, gaps or contradictions inherent in these Global Goals as presently conceived. We welcome critical submissions about the cultures of resource use, restoration, and sustainable food production/consumption: meat, seafood, dairy, fruits, vegetables, cereals, medicinal aromatic plants, edible oils, wines, juices. While contributors may wish to explore the potential of a single site-based or time-based case study, they are welcome to address more than one time frame and/or geographical focus if the study so justifies. Comparative histories, for instance, show how past production practices can inform the present cultural economy of food in a place, while future projections can consider food systems capable of emerging from present practices. Likewise, comparative cases focusing on local, national, or cultural geographies and their respective socio-political systems may offer instructive similarities or differences in response to shared environmental trajectories. We encourage theoretical and empirical approaches from the environmental humanities that address materiality, class, gender, de/coloniality, and the nonhuman, but ask that all contributions address both food production and consumption to one extent or another as justified by the cases under discussion.

 Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • urban farming
  • factory farming
  • fisheries
  • resource depletion
  • meat production and consumption
  • animal domestication
  • cruelty to animals
  • species extinction
  • food security
  • informal / community gardening
  • indigenous foodways
  • veganism/plant-based diets
  • permaculture
  • agroforestry / foraging
  • experimental / future food
  • water use
  • agricultural labor
  • activism and advocacy
  • diet and nutrition
  • food and public health
  • environmental impacts of food production and consumption
  • climate change and/or biodiversity implications of food systems

 

The editors of the Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability special issue weclome contributions in connection with the conference “Food Futures: Humanities and Social Science Responses” organized by the Humanities for the Environment Asia-Pacific Observatory (Taiwan) in November 2020 (https://bit.ly/2zKC13D), though participation in the conference is not a requirement for submission to this special issue.

 

Author information:

The editors of the special issue are seeking submissions that are 5,000-8,000 words in length, including bibliography and references.

Submission deadline for final papers is 15 December 2020.

This call extends the original call for papers that went out in 2019.

Proposals and papers originally considered as part of the earlier call may be resubmitted, if authors have extended or improved upon them in response to earlier review.

Papers already accepted from the previous call require no further action from their authors.

About the journal https://www.mdpi.com/journal/humanities

Author’s guidelines can be found at https://www.mdpi.com/journal/humanities/instructions

 

Humanities is an open-access journal. This means that an open-access fee applies (with some discount for this Special Issue), though we are able to subsidize this cost in special cases where authors’ institutions may not provide subventions. Many universities now have funds set aside to cover standard open access fees, and we encourage potential contributors to consult with these sources. Along with your abstract, please indicate whether you would like to be considered for this subsidy.

Dr. Steven Hartman
Dr. Parker Krieg
Dr. Lea Rekow
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Environmental Humanities
  • Food Studies
  • Public Health
  • Sustainability

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Gendered and Racial Injustices in American Food Systems and Cultures
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020066 - 08 Apr 2021
Viewed by 717
Abstract
Multiple factors create food injustices in the United States. They occur in different societal sectors and traverse multiple scales, from the constrained choices of the industrialized food system to legal and corporate structures that replicate entrenched racial and gender inequalities, to cultural expectations [...] Read more.
Multiple factors create food injustices in the United States. They occur in different societal sectors and traverse multiple scales, from the constrained choices of the industrialized food system to legal and corporate structures that replicate entrenched racial and gender inequalities, to cultural expectations around food preparation and consumption. Such injustices further harm already disadvantaged groups, especially women and racial minorities, while also exacerbating environmental deterioration. This article consists of five sections that employ complementary approaches in the humanities, design studies, and science and technology studies. The authors explore cases that represent structural injustices in the current American food system, including: the racialized and gendered effects of food systems and cultures on both men and women; the misguided and de-territorialized global branding of the Mediterranean Diet as a universal ideal; the role of food safety regulations around microbes in reinforcing racialized food injustices; and the benefits of considering the American food system and all of its parts as designed artifacts that can be redesigned. The article concludes by discussing how achieving food justice can simultaneously promote sustainable food production and consumption practices—a process that, like the article itself, invites scholars and practitioners to actively design our food system in ways that empower different stakeholders and emphasize the importance of collaboration and interconnection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability)
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Article
Grilling Meataphors: Impossible™ Foods and Posthumanism in the Meat Aisle
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10010049 - 11 Mar 2021
Viewed by 781
Abstract
There has always been a posthuman aspect to the processing and consumption of animal-based meats, especially as cuts of meat are distanced from the animals supplying them, thus turning the animals themselves into information more so than bodies. Plant-based meat has doubled down [...] Read more.
There has always been a posthuman aspect to the processing and consumption of animal-based meats, especially as cuts of meat are distanced from the animals supplying them, thus turning the animals themselves into information more so than bodies. Plant-based meat has doubled down on its employment of posthuman rhetoric, to become what the authors suggest are meataphors, or the articulation of meat as a pattern of information mapped onto a substrate in a way that is not exclusively linguistic. Impossible™ Foods’s meats, in particular, can be considered meataphors that participate in a larger symbolic and capitalistic endeavor to stake a claim in the animal-based meat market using more traditional advertising strategies; however, Impossible™ Foods’s meats are also, more implicitly, making posthuman moves in their persuasive efforts, rhetorically shifting both the meaning of meat and what it means to choose between animal-based and plant-based meats, in a way that parallels posthumanism’s emphasis on information. Impossible™ Foods, through their persuasive practices, has generated a new narrative of what sustains bodies, beyond the spatially significant juxtapositions with animal-based meats. Impossible™ Foods takes on the story of meat and remediates it for audiences through their semiotic practices, thus showing how the company employs a posthumanist approach to meat production and consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability)
Article
Urban Food Autonomy: The Flourishing of an Ethics of Care for Sustainability
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10010048 - 11 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 888
Abstract
Urban agriculture is often advanced as a sustainable solution to feed a growing urban population, offering a number of benefits: improved fresh food access, CO2 absorption, social justice and social cohesion among others. Going beyond these direct tangible/objective benefits from urban agriculture, [...] Read more.
Urban agriculture is often advanced as a sustainable solution to feed a growing urban population, offering a number of benefits: improved fresh food access, CO2 absorption, social justice and social cohesion among others. Going beyond these direct tangible/objective benefits from urban agriculture, in this paper we ask: How can growing food in the cities teach us about taking care of each other and the natural environment? We use the example of urban food autonomy movements to discuss the transformative potential of a grassroots-led initiative promoting permaculture, which is anchored in three “ethics”: care for the earth, care for the people, and fair share. Through examining the philosophical underpinnings of “autonomy” and “care”, we explore how urban food autonomy initiatives can enable the development of an ethics of care, especially using permaculture inspirations. Our theoretical review and case analysis reveal that “autonomy” can never be achieved without “care” and that these are co-dependent outcomes. The urban food autonomy initiatives are directly relevant for the achievement of the three of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: “Zero Hunger,” “Life on Land” and “Climate Action”, and contribute to a culture of care. Indeed, urban agriculture can act as a powerful education platform for the engagement of diverse stakeholders while also supporting a collective transformation of values. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability)
Article
The Sprouting Farms: You Are What You Grow
Humanities 2021, 10(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10010027 - 03 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1792
Abstract
In 2017, the Singaporean government unveiled the Farm Transformation Map, a highly technology-driven initiative that intends to change its current, near-total dependence on imported food. The plan focuses on the prospect of high-productivity farming—in particular, integrated vertical, indoor, and intensive urban farming—as a [...] Read more.
In 2017, the Singaporean government unveiled the Farm Transformation Map, a highly technology-driven initiative that intends to change its current, near-total dependence on imported food. The plan focuses on the prospect of high-productivity farming—in particular, integrated vertical, indoor, and intensive urban farming—as a possible solution to geopolitical uncertainty, intense urbanisation, and environmental degradation. What to farm (or not) and how to farm has long mediated social, cultural, political, and environmental relations. Following the stories of a few small- to medium-scale urban farms, including rooftop gardens, community farms, and organic farms, in this future-oriented city polis, this article explores the rise of urban farming through the politics of localism and the notion of care. How has localism, in some contexts, been reduced to a narrow sense of geographic location? What is being cared for in and through farming in urban locales? How might this type of farming transform and shape bio-cultural, social-technological relations within humans, and between humans and non-humans? More importantly, this article explores how urban agriculture might forge a kind of thick localism rooted in situated care as it carries out social missions, experimenting with and subverting the dominant imaginary of industrial farming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability)
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Article
Resurgents Create a Moral Landscape: Indigenous Resurgence and Everyday Practices of Farming in Okinawa
Humanities 2020, 9(4), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9040135 - 12 Nov 2020
Viewed by 1032
Abstract
Located at the territorial border of powerful states in the world, Okinawa has been a politically contested place because of the long and disproportionate hosting of the US military installations in Japan. Historically, the effects of military occupation and control of land appeared [...] Read more.
Located at the territorial border of powerful states in the world, Okinawa has been a politically contested place because of the long and disproportionate hosting of the US military installations in Japan. Historically, the effects of military occupation and control of land appeared in the dispossession of Indigenous land, a transition of the local economy, and furthermore, environmental destruction of agrarian space. This essay examines everyday acts of Okinawans making Indigenous space and making the land a more livable place, despite having long been dominated and militarily occupied. More specifically, this essay explores the correlation between land-based practices of farming and (a)political activism in the community. Drawing upon ethnographic research in Okinawa, I share various stories of people engaged in active Indigenous resurgence, whom I have termed “resurgents.” Stories of these resurgents show their commitment to the land-based farming and community-based activism of restoring the Indigenous landscape and foodways. I argue that the everyday act of farming, while perhaps seemingly apolitical and personal, has been and becomes a form of sociopolitical action that not only acts to resist settler-military space but also to sustain firmly and to call forth resurgent Okinawan Indigeneity from the ground. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability)
Article
Integrating Food Culture with Socio-Environmental Recovery: Case Study Perspectives from the Global South
Humanities 2020, 9(4), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9040134 - 05 Nov 2020
Viewed by 849
Abstract
This paper discusses how local-level food systems, social remediation and environmental restoration can be linked to increase stability and build resilience inside extremely vulnerable communities. Specifically, it details how food culture entwines with socio-environmental restoration to benefit three low-income urban and peri-urban communities [...] Read more.
This paper discusses how local-level food systems, social remediation and environmental restoration can be linked to increase stability and build resilience inside extremely vulnerable communities. Specifically, it details how food culture entwines with socio-environmental restoration to benefit three low-income urban and peri-urban communities located in Thailand, India and Brazil. It aims to add to an existing body of knowledge that resides at the nexus of food, socio-environmental restoration and informality. It details effective, proven initiatives that have been regionally replicated to support marginalized communities to better cope with the negative effects of simultaneous stressors. It posits that imaginative visioning can be applied to simultaneously cultivate food security, remediate neglected lands and improve socio-economic opportunity. It provides a contribution to the field of social-ecological restoration planning in relation to food studies in lowest-income contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Cultures & Critical Sustainability)
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