Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 431–444 | Cite as

Food sovereignty as decolonization: some contributions from Indigenous movements to food system and development politics

  • Sam GreyEmail author
  • Raj Patel


The popularity of ‘food sovereignty’ to cover a range of positions, interventions, and struggles within the food system is testament, above all, to the term’s adaptability. Food sovereignty is centrally, though not exclusively, about groups of people making their own decisions about the food system—it is a way of talking about a theoretically-informed food systems practice. Since people are different, we should expect decisions about food sovereignty to be different in different contexts, albeit consonant with a core set of principles (including women’s rights, a shared opposition to genetically modified crops, and a demand for agriculture to be removed from current international trade agreements). In this paper we look at the analytical points of friction in applying ideas of food sovereignty within the context of Indigenous struggles in North America. This, we argue, helps to clarify one of the central themes in food sovereignty: that it is a continuation of anti-colonial struggles, even in post-colonial contexts. Such an examination has dividends both for scholars of food sovereignty and for those of Indigenous politics: by helping to problematize notions of food sovereignty and postcoloniality, but also by posing pointed questions around gender for Indigenous struggles.


Food sovereignty Indigenous self-determination Decolonization Food systems politics Development 



The authors are grateful for editorial and reviewer comments in improving this piece, and extend thanks to the members of the Indigenous Studies Workshop at the University of Victoria for their valuable feedback. The usual disclaimer applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Studies in Religion and SocietyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Unit for Humanities at Rhodes University (UHURU)GrahamstownSouth Africa

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