Food for Justice — Power, Politics, and Food Inequalities in a Bioeconomy

Institution: Heidelberg University, Heidelberg Center for Ibero-American Studies – HCIAS

Project Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Renata Motta and Dr. Marco Antonio Teixeira

The junior research group Food for Justice examines normative questions of inequalities and justice, rights and democracy that arise in disputes surrounding the question “how are we going to feed the world?” There is a growing politicisation of the production, distribution and consumption of food, because food relations are structured by economic, social, political, cultural and environmental inequalities. Increasingly, citizens perceive the global food system as part of the historical causes of the ecological crisis and the persisting hunger in the world. Although reasons for that are long known (the use of food for profit, the gap between production and consumption, conflicts over land and water, exploitative labour relations, the energy matrix and waste generation), research on food security and bioeconomy tend to rely on the same, searching for technological fixes to a profit-oriented model exploiting living matter.

What is needed to deepen the debate is more knowledge about which food system citizens desire, which solutions are already there that address social concerns and how to redirect public policies towards a fair and sustainable food system. Combining theoretical perspectives on global inequalities with social movement research on food justice, Food for Justice will look at challenges and solutions both in Europe (with focus on Germany) and in Latin America (focusing on Brazil). On the one hand, major normative challenges will be identified in case studies of social mobilisation and critical consumption over food. On the other hand, the research will map and analyse social and political innovations such as agroecology and alternative food networks, as devised by civil society groups and public policies to achieve food security. In short, Food for Justice is about achieving global food security in a fair and ecological way. It looks into social mobilization targeted at injustices in the food system and into social and political innovations that address inequalities undermining food security such as class, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality.