Colloquium on the Global South examines the politics of food

The political process involved in getting food from the farmers’ fields to the tables of those who need it is the topic of the next Colloquium on the Global South symposium, titled "Food Movements and Alliances: Toward Justice and Sovereignty" on Wednesday, March 12, from 2:30 to 4:30pm, in 305 York Lanes, Keele campus.

The issues of food and agriculture will be discussed by Raj Patel, a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of California at Berkeley; York PhD candidate in environmental studies Lauren Baker; University of Toronto sociology Professor Harriet Friedmann; and Sally Miller, a food writer and researcher.

Right: Raj Patel 

In response to growing social inequality, environmental crises and health concerns, there has been a proliferation of movements and alliances working on food and agriculture issues over the past decade. These transnational efforts offer a window into the politics of food from seed to table.

Focusing on food alliances and movements in Canada, the US, Mexico, South Africa and India, the panel will examine diverse strategies for confronting corporate control of the food system, tensions between localization and globalization of food movements, and the challenges of building alliances across differences. It will also look at new cultural, economic and ecological practices emerging in food alternatives worldwide.

Right: Harriet Friedmann

Patel is a Fellow at the Food First Institute of Food and Development Policy in the US, where he was previously a policy analyst. It was there that Patel says he first learned about land struggles and became involved with The Land Research Action Network, a network of researchers and social movements committed to the promotion and advancement of the fundamental rights of individuals and communities to land and to equitable access to the resources necessary for life with human dignity. Patel is also a research associate at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

His upcoming book, Stuffed And Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System (Melville House Publishing, April 2008), looks at the global food system and why there are one billion overweight people and 800 million going hungry.

 Left: Sally Miller

Friedmann is the associate Chair of the Department of Sociology and a Fellow of the Centre for International Studies at U of T. She has published widely in US, European and Canadian journals on issues related to food and agriculture and her research includes international regulation of food and agriculture, family and corporate enterprises in the agro-food sector of the world economy, patterns of international trade and farm structures, persistence and change in diets and cuisines, and agroecology.

Miller has a PhD in anthropology from Cornell and a masters degree in environmental studies from York with close to 20 years of experience in marketing and administration in the cooperative and natural food sectors. Recently, she co-founded, along with several others, the Fourth Pig Worker Co-op dedicated to the design and installation of alternative energy and to natural home-building. Her forthcoming book on food activism – Edible Action is due out in fall 2008 from Fernwood Publishing.

Left: Lauren Baker

Baker is a food researcher and activist interested in local food economies and food policy. Her research focuses on local corn networks in post-NAFTA Mexico.

The symposium is co-organized by Baker and York environmental studies Professor Deborah Barndt, Chair of the symposium. 

The Colloquium on the Global South is an open space for debate and critical inquiry for students, faculty members, NGOs, social activists and policy makers. It is presented by the University Consortium on the Global South (UCGS). The symposiums are free and open to everyone.

The UCGS is an inter-unit initiative based at York University that encourages academic engagement with the global south. Its initiators recognize problems and issues increasingly transcend regional boundaries.

For more information about the UCGS, or to register for updates, contact Tim Clark at