Call for paper submissions on Productivism, agroecology, and the challenge of feeding the world: critical perspectives
Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference on Nature and Society (DOPE) will be held in Lexington, KY from February 26-March 1, 2014.
The “green revolution” in agriculture was catalyzed by researchers, philanthropists, and governments that sought to end world hunger by increasing yields of commodity food crops around the world. This productivist logic-- that by modernizing agricultural techniques and making high-yield crops pervasive, food prices would drop into the reach of even the world’s poorest people-- dominates while a billion people go hungry despite impressive increases in commodity food production. After more than half a century of documenting the devastating costs of the green revolution to rural livelihoods and the environment, and more than thirty years after Amartya Sen’s prescient observation that hunger is caused not by a lack of food but by a lack of the power to demand it, productivist logic persists.
Productivist logic still drives the most well-resourced conversations about alleviating hunger in the world. “The challenge of feeding 9 billion by 2050” is the rallying cry for greater global-scale investment in agricultural production; the answer entails further advances in crop technology and distribution of these technologies to more farmers. In this vein, productivist concepts like the “yield gap” between theoretical yields in research plots and actual yields in poorer farmers’ fields are the target for scientific research. Meanwhile, alternative approaches to hunger are also gaining traction in national and international food security strategies: Agroecology --and other alternatives that embrace the multi-functional contributions of agriculture-- challenge the narrow focus on yield. Agroecology has grown as a concept among academics and farmer movements alike, even finding a home in state and trans-national projects to address poverty and hunger.
In this session, we hope to look critically at productivism and alternative logics (agroecology, food sovereignty, agriculture's multi functionality, and others): what promise they hold for alleviating hunger and what limits them from doing so. What gives productivism such enduring prevalence? What aspects of agriculture, ecologies, and livelihoods does productivist logic overlook and make invisible? What alignments of institutions, capital, and public imagination keep levels of crop production at the forefront of conversations about hunger? What limits other logics from joining those conversations with equal impact and leveraging similar resources? What forms of alternative approaches to agriculture and hunger (such as agroecology,food sovereignty, and multinational landscapes) are becoming mainstream, and with what consequences? What are the potentials and barriers to implementing agroecology and other alternatives at national and global scales?
We welcome papers that:
- critically engage with productivist logic in contemporary approaches to alleviating hunger
- examine the alignments of power that keep productivist logic dominant and exclude alternative ways of thinking about hunger
- assess the potential, limits, and barriers to alternative approaches to alleviating hunger
- discuss the challenges of bringing agroecology (and other alternative approaches) to national and global scales
- propose and/or critique strategies for widening the focus of hunger alleviation projects and institutions beyond agricultural production
Interested participants should send an abstract or statement of interest to Devon Sampson (devonds [at] gmail [dot] com) and Zoe VanGelder (zoe [dot] vangelder [at] yale [dot] edu) before November 25th 2013.
All conference participants must also register for the conference by December 2, 2013: www.politicalecology.org.