Moving from “matters of fact” to “matters of concern” in order to grow economic food futures in the Anthropocene
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Agrifood scholars commonly adopt “a matter of fact way of speaking” to talk about the extent of neoliberal rollout in the food sector and the viability of “alternatives” to capitalist food initiatives. Over the past few decades this matter of fact stance has resulted in heated debate in agrifood scholarship on two distinct battlegrounds namely, the corporate food regime and the alternative food regime. In this paper I identify some of the limitations of speaking in a matter of fact way and of focusing on capitalist and neoliberal economies as the yardstick by which to assess all food economy initiatives. Using stories of bananas in Australia and the Philippines I advocate for a new mode of critical inquiry in food scholarship that focuses on matters of concern. Following Bruno Latour I use the term critical inquiry to refer to research methods and thinking practices that multiply possible ways of being and acting in the world. The new mode of critical inquiry I propose centers on enacting three broad research matters of concern. These are (1) gathering and assembling economic diversity (2) human actancy and (3) nonhuman actancy. I argue that through becoming critical minds in the Latourian sense researchers can play a key role in enacting economic food futures in the Anthropocene.
KeywordsAFNs Alternative Anthropocene Bananas Community food economies Diverse economies Food regimes Latourian Post-capitalist food economies
Alternative food network
Alter Trade Corporation
I would like to acknowledge the invaluable theoretical work of the Community Economies Collective that underpins this paper. Special thanks to Sarah Yallop, Gerda Roelvink, and Katherine Gibson for feedback on earlier drafts. Thanks also to the journal reviewers for their positive feedback and to Bob Fagan for the inspiration to follow bananas.
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