Publications

Updated October 2020

Highlighted Recent Publications

For full list of publications by group members see individual profile pages (linked under People).

2020

How Foodbanks Went Global

Spring, C. (2020). New Internationalist.


2020

The Political Economy of Agrarian Extractivism: Lessons from Bolivia

McKay, B.M. (2020). Fernwood Publishing.

 


2020

On the Significance of Alternative Economic Practices - Reconceptualizing Alterity in Alternative Food Networks

Rosol, M. (2020). In Economic Geography, 96(1): 52-76.

How Foodbanks Went Global

Spring, C. (2020). How foodbanks went global. New Internationalist. 

The rise of food charity in some of the most affluent countries is surely a sign that something has gone badly wrong. So why is this broken model being exported to the rest of the world? Charlie Spring investigates.

"At first glance, food banks dishing out unsold food can look like a pragmatic ‘win-win’. But what began as ‘emergency’ stop-gaps have become a permanent fixture for millions across the rich world, begging urgent questions: How did so many people come to rely on food parcels? When did access to food become a matter for charity, rather than rights? And, as food banks start to crop up from Jordan to Guatemala, why are they being promoted as a solution to hunger across the world?"

Donation box of a variety of food

Despite compassionate volunteers’ best efforts to reduce stigma, people prefer to pawn possessions or compromise their housing before seeking charity

Charlotte Spring

The Political Economy of Agrarian Extractivism: Lessons from Bolivia

McKay, B.M. (2020) The Political Economy of Agrarian Extractivism: Lessons from Bolivia. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.

Text Cover - The Political Economy of Agrarian Extractivism

Around the world, plantation economies are on the rise. Increasing concerns over food, energy and financial security, combined with a geopolitical restructuring of the global agro-food system, have resulted in a rush to secure control over resources. New actors and forms of capital penetration have entered the countryside, transforming the forms and relations of production, property and power. Soybeans, with industrial inputs upstream and storage, processing and transportation downstream, have become a quintessential agro-industrial “flex crop,” used as feed, food, fuel and industrial materials, but the very extractive character of the soy complex has severe implications for society, the economy and the environment.

The Political Economy of Agrarian Extractivism analyzes how the Bolivian countryside is transformed by the development and expansion of the soy complex and reveals the extractive dynamics of capitalist industrial agriculture, while also challenging dominant discourses legitimating this model as a means to achieve inclusive and sustainable rural development. Ben McKay finds that within the context of Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, Evo Morales, and the Movement Towards Socialism, fundamental contradictions abound.

This book analyzes how the Bolivian countryside is transformed by the development and expansion of the soy complex and reveals the extractive dynamics of capitalist industrial agriculture, while also challenging dominant discourses legitimating this model as a means to achieve inclusive and sustainable rural development.

Ben McKay


On the Significance of Alternative Economic Practices - Reconceptualizing Alterity in Alternative Food Networks

Rosol, M. (2020). On the significance of alternative economic practices – Reconceptualizing alterity in alternative food networks. Economic Geography 96(1): 52–76.

There is an ongoing debate as to how our economic, social, and environmental needs may be better addressed by organizing the economy differently, through more equitable and more sustainable practices.

In this article, existing alternative economic practices within agrifood systems—specifically alternative forms of connecting producers and consumers—are explored, primarily on a conceptual but also an empirically grounded level. The article offers a comprehensive review of the literature and, with an emphasis on contributions by economic geographers, clarifies the meaning of alterity in alternative food systems. It reveals the hitherto limited focus on either alternative products or alternative distribution networks. In light of this limitation and the ongoing incorporation of characteristics of alternative food by conventional food industries for profit purposes, second, it extends those insights by reconceptualizing alterity—namely, by introducing alternative economic practices as an important third pillar of alternative food networks (AFNs).

Empirically, by presenting two newly emerging models of AFNs from Berlin and Frankfurt—which go beyond just offering alternative food stuffs or using alternative distribution networks and instead aim at de-commodifying the food system—the article provides a closer view on existing alternative economic practices, highlighting the ways in which they think and perform the economy otherwise.

Alternative Food

© Photo: Marit Rosol 2019

The agrifood sector seems particularly open for performing the economy otherwise. Agrifood systems are not only the place where we vividly experience the convulsions caused by the current capitalist system but are also a laboratory for solutions.

Marit Rosol


Additional Publications

(under construction, more coming soon)

Traditional Latin American pupusas served with curtido closeup on a plate on the table. Vertical top view

Authoritarianism, Populism, Nationalism and Resistance in the Agrarian South

McKay, B., Oliveira, G. de L.T., & Lui, J. (2020). Canadian Journal of Development Studies.

This special section contributes to the vibrant debates concerning the “new political moment” underway with regards to “authoritarian populism” and nationalism in the agrarian South. With neoliberal globalisation in crisis, nationalist-populist and authoritarian movements are gaining ground, often transforming state and class configurations in ways that appease landed, agro-industrial and political elites, while simultaneously seeking to neutralise forms of resistance. Rather than starting from an ambiguous concept that submerges these class conflicts and contradictions, we argue that re-centering class struggles that frame the new political moment offers a more useful framework for understanding agrarian transformation in the contemporary period.


Coffee plant in Guatemala

Abby Landon (2011)

Food Sovereignty and Neo-extractivism: Limits and Possibilities of an Alternative Development Model

McKay, B. (2019). Globalizations.

Food sovereignty and neo-extractivism are two highly contentious concepts that have emerged in the development studies literature and as development alternatives pursued predominantly by governments in Latin America. This paper engages with both Critical Development Studies (CDS) and Critical Globalization Studies (CGS) to analyze the dynamics of this post-neoliberal model in Bolivia, providing insights into the convergences and contradictions of neo-extractivism and food sovereignty. Rather than challenging or transforming the neoliberal model of development, it is argued that the post-neoliberal model has been used strategically by states to gain and maintain legitimacy while facilitating and even exacerbating exploitative forms of extractivism for the accumulation of wealth and power. This has been possible, in part, due to the contradictory class positions that have materialized as the rural poor are increasingly dependent upon, and adversely incorporated into, new ‘modes of extraction’.