2020 Special Focus—Making the Local: Place, Authenticity, Sustainability

Food systems, the practices that support them, and the lives they sustain reveal who we are and what we aspire to be, as individuals and collectives. There has been a recent trend to privilege the ‘local’ when considering the alternatives to multinational agribusiness, the industrial food system, and the economic models that lurk behind their central actors. In a general sense, what does the ‘local’ actually mean: how does it represent a place, give a sense of authenticity, and support sustainable practices? In the interfacing contexts of intensifying social globalization, planetary ecological changes, and deepening economic inequalities, how might the ‘local’ represent a complex political terrain, where place, authenticity, sustainability can also be unintentionally exclusive concepts? How might the ‘making’ of the local need to transcend a territoriality of place, the essentialism of authenticity, and the boundaries of sustainable practices? In the making of the local, what can food studies scholars uniquely offer to broader debates about our shared planetary futures?

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