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Special issue “Agri-food justice: processes, practices, perspectives”

Editors: Camille Hochedez (Université de Poitiers, UMR 7301 MIGRINTER, and Julie Le Gall (Université de Lyon, USR 3337 CEMCA,

A few years after publication of the special issue Justice spatiale | spatial justice about food justice and agriculture which led us to propose the concept of “agri-food justice” (2016), our intention with this issue of RAFE is to collect social science and economics articles based on detailed empirical work carried out in the countries of the South and/or the North (including comparative studies), in order to discuss and develop this concept.

Firstly, this special issue will continue to explore of a procedural and relational approach to agri-food justice. We will analyse it in terms of the connections and disconnections between activities, spaces and agents of food systems, which make the latter more or less inclusive at the level of all their components (food produced, transported, transformed, marketed, distributed, consumed, digested, conceived and considered) (Hochedez and Le Gall, 2018). Agri-food justice associates interacting material and immaterial phenomena, such as ecosystems, workers, farm production methods, supply chains, public policy, land, bodies, etc. It is this matrix of objects, phenomena and relations (or non-relations) that the articles will help to elucidate in an innovative way.

Secondly, this issue is also inspired by a practical approach to agri-food justice. Arising from a movement that is at the same time activist, scientific and political (Gottlieb and Joshi, 2010; Paddeu, 2016; Reynolds and Cohen, 2016), the concept of agri-food justice is a vector of change in the face of social and spatial injustice (Hochedez and Le Gall, 2016). The significance of agri-food justice is explored through more “praxis” – combining theory and action (Wakefield, 2007, cited by Slocum and Saldanha, 2016) – and “experiences”, particularly in everyday life, “in which everyone has plenty of opportunities and incentives to learn, value, engage and take full control of his/her own nutrition” (Tornaghi, 2017: 792).

While classical approaches to justice focus on structural divides (descriptive approaches in terms of networks or accessibility, for example), favouring an approach based on processes, links (including non-links) and practices allows to take into account the evolutions and adaptations of our societies and ecosystems, and opens the range of analysis up to situations of exclusion that are less “extreme” but just as problematic.

Within this context, we propose four themes of research. The papers can fit into the general framework of reflection and/or one of the four themes:

  1.  Mechanisms of injustice and vulnerabilities at all levels of agri-food systems
The contributions will improve our understanding of the relations between social vulnerability and agri-food injustices. They may deal with violence in all agri-food activities, which reaches different degrees in the North and the South, working conditions in processing lines, or intrinsic dependence on drug networks. They will address forms of oppression of racialized minorities (Cadieux and Slocum, 2016; Reynolds and Cohen, 2016), gender, migrants and seasonal workers. They will also account for the economic and social pressures, contradictory political directives, norms of beauty and “good diets” that affect farmers and consumers alike and can drive people to sickness and even death. For this theme, we expect contributions which do not focus so much on the most vulnerable groups, who have often been the subject of food justice studies already, but on people in borderline situations of less visible insecurity or domination. In doing so, we hope to develop in more depth the idea that agri-food justice and injustice are relative and depend on the social, territorial or individual contexts from which they are perceived.

  2.  Justices and injustices in the intermediate spaces of food systems
This issue also aims to shed light on some of the black boxes present in the functioning of food systems. Born out of studies on North-American cities, food justice has taken firm hold of the question of consumers and producers, but less so of the intermediate levels and their agents in both rural and urban areas. The spaces of transformation (e.g., slaughterhouses), transport and logistics (e.g., wholesale markets) are little documented in terms of food justice. And yet, within the domain of food studies, the literature is reinventing itself with new paradigms of metropolitan supply (food hubs, last mile), distribution (home delivery systems like Uber Eats, short supply chains), consumption or foodscapes. These studies, numerous in the North and emerging in the metropolitan areas of the South, invite us to consider the formal or informal nature of networks, workers’ employment conditions, or the conditions of commercial intermediation. Contributions on this theme could follow the hypothesis that these intermediate spaces play a key role in situations of justice or injustice within local or global food systems.

  3.  Processes rooted in an ecosystem of the Earth subject to global changes
Through agriculture and food, we are in a constant relationship with the ecosystem. However, few works have explored this connection or disconnection and its impact on situations of food justice or injustice. With this call for papers, we intend to continue exploring the relationship between agri-food justice and environmental justice and to incorporate the socio-ecological dimension more fully into the analyses. The contributions could evaluate the differences in adapting to climate change, among the farming populations of Northern and Southern countries or among consumers living under diverse social and educational conditions. Papers will be welcomed on choices of farming techniques (both agroecology and conventional agriculture), the mechanisms of access to resources (seeds, land, etc.) and the reduction or exacerbation of food injustices, or the empowerment of producers and other agents of food systems.

  4.  How to achieve a just transition?
Beyond environmental changes, taking into account the justices and injustices of food systems is a component of the processes of transition. However, in a global and local context where all the agents do not have the same resources or capacities, how can we achieve a just transition? So far, the emphasis has been put on the role of civil society, consumers, and militant movements. Now it is time to explore other driving forces such as agricultural and commercial entrepreneurship, transnational policies and firms, educational stakeholders, or the artists who place food at the heart of their practices. The contributions will study the impact pathways between food justice and the assertion of food sovereignty, and vice versa.

The first version of the paper should be submitted via the RAFE website by July 1st, 2021 at the latest. It may be written in French or English. In the event of the paper being written in French, the translation of the final version will be at the authors’ expense. All papers will be subject to a double evaluation. With each evaluation feedback, a team of two (a review editor and a special issue’s coordinator) will take the decision (rejection, minor revision, major revision, acceptance). The review anticipates publishing these papers in January 2022. Papers not accepted before the special issue publication, if eventually accepted, will be published in a later issue. To ensure the coherence of the special issue, it is envisaged that the special issue’s coordinators may, if they esteem it necessary, refuse the publication of an accepted paper. If this is the case, the paper will be published in the following issue of the review.

Manuscripts should not exceed 60,000 characters (including references). Further instructions for submissions are available on the Review of Agricultural, food and Environmental Studies website.

Cadieux K.V., Slocum, R., 2016. “Solidarity, space, and race: toward geographies of agrifood justice”, Justice spatiale | spatial justice, 9,

Gottlieb R., Joshi A., 2010. Food justice, Cambridge MA, MIT press, 304 p.

Hochedez C., Le Gall J. (dir.), 2016. “Food Justice and Agriculture, Justice spatiale Spatial Justice, 9.

Hochedez C., Le Gall J., 2018. “Des pétales pour penser la justice alimentaire”, Ecole d’été sur la justice alimentaire, Université de Laval à Québec, Québec.

Paddeu F., 2016. “From one movement to another? Comparing environmental justice activism and food justice alternative practices”, Justice spatiale | spatial justice, 9,

Reynolds K., Cohen N., 2016. Beyond the Kale: Urban Agriculture and Social Justice Activism in New York City. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 216 p.

Slocum R., Saldanha A., 2016, Peas and Praxis: Organizing Food Justice through the Direct Action of the Newtown Florist Club, in Slocum R., Saldanha A (eds.), Geographies of Race and Food. Fields, Bodies, Markets, London, Routledge.

Tornaghi, C., 2017. “Urban Agriculture in the Food‐Disabling City: (Re)defining Urban Food Justice, Reimagining a Politics of Empowerment”, Antipode, 49: 781– 801.