Food activism and negotiating the gendered dynamics of public cultures of care
Keywords:activism, care, gender, intersectional feminism, feminist food studies, Progressive and Radical food movements
A growing and significant research literature utilizes feminist frameworks to study relationships with food from a variety of vantage points. In this article, we are especially interested in feminist food sovereignty, feminist political ecology, and feminist theories of care, both because caring labor has been historically undervalued in food systems and because neoliberal modes of commodification and marketization have interpellated activists, scholar-activists, and activist-scholars into new ways of self-care and caring for others. To begin, we provide a brief overview of the places where we work, including the city of Pomona, the Pomona Valley Certified Farmers Market, and the Pomona Community Farmer Alliance (PCFA), a community organization and local activist collective. We then draw on nearly three years of participatory ethnographic work in this community to explore and theorize care work in local food systems activism. Our conceptual framework, framed by feminist food studies and theories of care, illuminates how PCFA members conceive of their own caring work in practice, as well as how they negotiate the complexities of caring for others and self, while being left by the state to do this work. We also explore how activists’ care practices sometimes lay bare structural inequalities and the failure of the state, while also reinforcing and challenging neoliberal ideologies embedded in volunteerism. To conclude, we discuss the gendered implications of our work for food systems research, specifically considering the complementarity of Progressive and Radical approaches to food systems transformation.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Teresa Lloro, Frecia González
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