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Special Issue "The Invisible Sustainability of Otherness: Rethinking Food Systems from the Margins"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Geography and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020) | Viewed by 7583

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Petr Jehlička
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
Interests: informal food economies; sustainable food production and consumption; alternative food networks; sharing; geography of knowledge production; postcolonial geography
Dr. Annalisa Colombino
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
Interests: geographies of food; animal geography; human-animal relations; alternative food networks; biopolitics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Inspired by post-colonial calls to incorporate work from “outside of the core” in the production of general knowledge, this Special Issue seeks to bring to light how geographical contexts beyond the Anglosphere generate novel insights and knowledge that can help us to rethink the sustainability of food systems. Scholarship on sustainable food systems in global peripheries tends to rely on theories and concepts generated by research conducted in the Anglosphere, and thus its vitality and efficacy is assessed according to criteria derived from the “centre”. As a result, findings often tend to replicate and confirm, rather than challenge and extend, current knowledge and theory. At the same time, however, sustainable food initiatives in the “centre” have been subject to growing critique about their small scale, niche quality, social exclusivity, and precarity. Recent reports about agriculture’s key role in the destruction of wildlife and planetary ecosystems point to the urgent need to search for alternative approaches to sustainable food systems.

This Special Issue calls for papers that incorporate insights into the (un)sustainability of food systems both from studies conducted beyond the Anglosphere and/or that seek an innovative dialogue between critical food studies and human-animal studies. What can non-human animals (especially farm animals) teach us about the sustainability of current food systems? What can we learn from food provisioning practices enacted in geographical areas beyond the Anglosphere?

The broader aim is to extend what is typically considered as “general knowledge” on sustainable food systems to include studies of diversified food systems, sustainable food consumption, informal economic networks, extensive agriculture, and traditional animal husbandry in global (semi-)peripheries. In general, we look for contributions that explore how we can learn about sustainable food provisioning practices (e.g., traditional and innovative food sharing schemes, food waste reduction and prevention strategies, foraging practices, community gardening, agroecology schemes, extensive and traditional animal husbandry practices, “hobby farms”, etc.) from the perspectives of both human and non-human actors.

By highlighting these opportunities, this Special Issue seeks to encourage a more inclusive, comprehensive, and equal exchange along both the centre-periphery and periphery-periphery axes of geographical knowledge production for advancing research on food systems’ sustainability. In so doing, it seeks to counterbalance two apparently dominant trends in international debates around food systems and their (un)sustainability: first, the common, often unspoken, assumption that the Anglosphere provides the context where other societies find inspiration and sources of socio-technical innovation. Second, the prevalent anthropocentricism of food and sustainability studies, which neglect considering (farm) animals as individuals from whom we can learn.

Please send your abstracts (max. 400 words), including authors’ affiliations, email addresses and short bio (200 words) by 13.01.2019 to: [email protected] and [email protected]

Dr. Petr Jehlička
Dr. Annalisa Colombino
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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 single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). 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

  • everyday sustainabilities
  • alternative food networks
  • informal food economies
  • sharing economies
  • farm animals
  • animal husbandry
  • human-animal relations
  • animal welfare
  • inequality of knowledge production
  • decolonisation of geographical knowledge

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Why I Would Want to Live in the Village If I Was Not Interested in Cultivating the Plot? A Study of Home Gardening in Rural Czechia
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020706 - 13 Jan 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1230
Abstract
Unsustainable food practices in the global North have brought a lot of attention to the concept of alternative food networks. However, prevailing research perspectives have focused on urban areas or market-related activities and tended to overlook the widespread yet neglected food growing in [...] Read more.
Unsustainable food practices in the global North have brought a lot of attention to the concept of alternative food networks. However, prevailing research perspectives have focused on urban areas or market-related activities and tended to overlook the widespread yet neglected food growing in home gardens, especially in rural areas. This paper uses a mixed method approach to study home gardening in two villages in Czechia, focusing on the state of the art of gardening, its sustainability context, and the perception of gardening by the local citizens. We have found that the vast majority of households grow fruit and vegetables, while livestock is also present. Home grown food, which has a supplemental character, is mostly shared within networks of relatives. An understanding of food production as a part of rural identity and tradition is an important element of the perception of gardening. Our findings contribute to the rich debates about the sustainability of food systems. The paper is innovative because it steps outside of the typical poverty or food security discourse of rural informal food production, as well it reveals information on livestock breeding, discusses home gardening in the context of rural development and food policies, and emancipates the semi-peripheral locality as a regular source of new knowledge. Full article
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Article
Neither Poor nor Cool: Practising Food Self-Provisioning in Allotment Gardens in the Netherlands and Czechia
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5134; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125134 - 24 Jun 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1813
Abstract
While urban gardening and food provisioning have become well-established subjects of academic inquiry, these practices are given different meanings depending on where they are performed. In this paper, we scrutinise different framings used in the literature on food self-provisioning in Eastern and Western [...] Read more.
While urban gardening and food provisioning have become well-established subjects of academic inquiry, these practices are given different meanings depending on where they are performed. In this paper, we scrutinise different framings used in the literature on food self-provisioning in Eastern and Western Europe. In the Western context, food self-provisioning is often mentioned alongside other alternative food networks and implicitly framed as an activist practice. In comparison, food self-provisioning in Central and Eastern Europe has until recently been portrayed as a coping strategy motivated by economic needs and underdeveloped markets. Our research used two case studies of allotment gardening from both Western and Eastern Europe to investigate the legitimacy of the diverse framings these practices have received in the literature. Drawing on social practice theory, we examined the meanings of food self-provisioning for allotment gardeners in Czechia and the Netherlands, as well as the material manifestations of this practice. We conclude that, despite minor differences, allotment gardeners in both countries are essentially ‘doing the same thing.’ We thus argue that assuming differences based on different contexts is too simplistic, as are the binary categories of ‘activist alternative’ versus ‘economic need.’ Full article
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Article
Are There Local Versions of Sustainability? Food Networks in the Semi-Periphery
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2845; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072845 - 03 Apr 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1373
Abstract
The results of many studies of Central and Eastern European food networks suggest that the changes in local food systems are not a delayed repetition of their Western counterparts but have different dynamics resulting from the political and economic circumstances in the countries. [...] Read more.
The results of many studies of Central and Eastern European food networks suggest that the changes in local food systems are not a delayed repetition of their Western counterparts but have different dynamics resulting from the political and economic circumstances in the countries. To examine the specific sustainability potential of local food networks in Poland, this study compares the collectives based on novel alternative food networks and traditional networks. Drawing on the concept of actant in actor–network theory and content analysis methodology, the study identifies the specificity of these networks. The results show that traditional networks are more focused on the material core of practices, being geographically close, unified, and more specific regarding material actants of the networks. On the other hand, collectives based on Western-style alternative food networks are more widely distributed, reaching out to more abstract and distant actants. Full article
Article
Middle Class, Tradition and the Desi-Realm—Discourses of Alternative Food Networks in Bengaluru, India
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2741; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072741 - 31 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1096
Abstract
It has repeatedly been claimed that persistent traditional agriculture and marketing in countries of the Global South, such as India, are a fruitful basis for the foundation of alternative food networks (AFNs). However, literature on AFNs in the Global South is scarce and [...] Read more.
It has repeatedly been claimed that persistent traditional agriculture and marketing in countries of the Global South, such as India, are a fruitful basis for the foundation of alternative food networks (AFNs). However, literature on AFNs in the Global South is scarce and it thus remains uncertain how the appropriation of traditional agri-food practices plays out. We conducted semi-structured expert interviews with representatives of 14 AFNs in Bengaluru, India, in order to explore their aims and approaches. We found that there is a high variety of different AFNs in the city. One salient discourse among the representatives was that the agri-food system can be improved by a revitalization of tradition. In this paper, we discuss the implications of this conviction on representatives of AFNs. Traditionalism, we argue, does rather represent a deflection from achieving the stated goals of the AFN, namely the improvement of the livelihood of Indian farmers. Full article
Article
Between Imitation and Embeddedness: Three Types of Polish Alternative Food Networks
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7059; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247059 - 10 Dec 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1441
Abstract
The purpose of this article is to present the specific character of Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) in Poland as one of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We refer to the issue increasingly debated in the social sciences, that is, how [...] Read more.
The purpose of this article is to present the specific character of Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) in Poland as one of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We refer to the issue increasingly debated in the social sciences, that is, how to translate academic models embedded in specific social contexts to other contexts, as we trace the process of adapting ideas and patterns of AFNs developed in the West to the semi-peripheral context of CEE countries. Drawing on the theory of social practices, we divide the analysis into three essential areas: The ideas of the network, its materiality, and the activities within the network. We have done secondary analysis of the research material, including seven case studies the authors worked on in the past decade. We distinguish three network models—imitated, embedded and mixed—which allow us to establish a specific post-transformational AFN growth theory. Particular attention should be paid to the type of embedded networks, as they highlight the possibility of local and original forms of AFNs. Mixed networks show that ideas imported from abroad need to be considered in juxtaposition and connection with local circumstances. Full article
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