Virtual Symposium 2021

Global Food Systems in Local Contexts – Understanding Contemporary Food Systems Through Time

Tuesday 16th – Friday 19th February 2021 

Deadline for abstracts extended to Monday 30 November 2020 

The field of food systems research must be dynamic, inter-disciplinary and innovative to meet challenges such as food sovereignty and security, structural determinants of malnutrition, inequalities in land access, trade, climate change and its effects.

This virtual symposium aims to bring together researchers from across disciplinary, social and cultural contexts to discuss the importance of temporal perspectives and historical approaches in meeting the contemporary challenge of making food systems healthy and equitable. We invite scholars who investigate the complexity of food systems through time and consider local contexts within the long history of global processes. We are particularly interested in place-based research which interrogates the context of settler-colonial politics, post-colonial dynamics and global power disparities. We also invite researchers who are finding creative and practical ways of making research collaborative, accessible and engaged as part of meeting global food systems challenges.

There will be a number of keynote speakers addressing historical approaches to food systems research, transdisciplinary work and collaborative methods, including Professor Matthew J. Smith, leading scholar in Caribbean History and the new Director of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership at the University College London, UK, who will speak about Caribbean Foodscapes.

We have several panel themes with guiding questions for submissions (see below) but welcome further suggestions for panels, or practical workshops and encourage creative research outputs.

Please submit your abstracts (max 300 words) using this Google Form (including title, co-author names and institutions, and a contact email address on your abstract submission).  

For any other questions, please email Dr Olivia Barnett-Naghshineh Dr Conny Guell

Suggested Panel Themes:

1. Transdisciplinary Research and Historical Contexts of Contemporary Food Systems

What insights can food systems research gain from historical perspectives and approaches? Why does food systems research not more readily use longer-term historical perspectives? What can we learn from understanding how food systems have operated in the past? What role can oral histories play in understanding food systems? How can qualitative and quantitative data be brought together? How is ‘time’ conceptualised, understood and traced through food systems research? What are some of the challenges to engaging historical approaches in interdisciplinary work on food systems? How can different data sources be brought together, gaps in knowledge filled through transdisciplinary work and relationships between different data sets established? How are relationships between researchers established and maintained, across disciplinary boundaries and conceptual languages?

2. Localised Food Knowledge Systems

What role does indigenous/localised food knowledge have in addressing problems of access to healthy, nutritious food and health? What forms can this knowledge take? What are the different practices of maintaining food systems knowledge? What ways can these be incorporated with “western” knowledge systems? What are the politics of combining these different kinds of knowledge practices?

3. Applied Research: Informing Policy and Practice

In what ways has historical research contributed to applied policies and practices? E.g. Urban food gardens, backyard gardens, maintaining indigenous knowledge, food sovereignty projects. How can cross-sectoral data be used to contribute to historical perspectives? How does data generated from NGOs, government agencies and regional agencies get used for historical research? What is the capacity for cross-sectoral data sharing? How can non-governmental agencies use historical data for their policy and practices? How does data from NGOs translate into historical research contexts?

4. Colonial Histories and Present Moments

How have colonial economies shaped the present? How do ongoing colonial processes exclude and obstruct healthy food systems in the present moment? How have colonial space and time changed food systems? How does the colonial past impact the present in relation to food regimes and food systems?

The symposium is hosted by academics at the University of York, University of Cambridge and University of Exeter European Centre for Environment and Human Health and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health and the University of the West Indies Caribbean Institute for Health Research