Whose right to (farm) the city? Race and food justice activism in post-Katrina New Orleans
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Among critical responses to the perceived perils of the industrial food system, the food sovereignty movement offers a vision of radical transformation by demanding the democratic right of peoples “to define their own agriculture and food policies.” At least conceptually, the movement offers a visionary and holistic response to challenges related to human and environmental health and to social and economic well-being. What is still unclear, however, is the extent to which food sovereignty discourses and activism interact with and affect the material and social realities of the frequently low-income communities of color in which they are situated, and whether they help or hinder pre-existing efforts to alleviate hunger, overcome racism, and promote social justice. This research and corresponding paper addresses those questions by examining food justice and food sovereignty activism in the city of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina as understood by both activists and community members. I argue, using post-Katrina New Orleans as a case study, that food projects initiated and maintained by white exogenous groups on behalf of communities of color risk exacerbating the very systems of privilege and inequality they seek to ameliorate. This paper argues for a re-positioning of food justice activism, which focuses on systemic change through power analyses and the strategic nurturing of interracial alliances directed by people residing in the communities in which projects are situated.
KeywordsFood justice Food sovereignty Urban geography Right to the city New Orleans Racism Activism
Hollygrove Market and Farm
Latino Farmers’ Cooperative of Louisiana
Lower Ninth Ward Food Access Coalition
Right to the city
This research was funded by Grants from the National Science Foundation and the Graduate School at the University of Georgia.
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