These boundary problems between the interlocking but significantly contested governance systems are a major issue with regard to assessing the transformatory potential of the alternative assemblages. For, as we will see below, one challenge for the new assemblages is to engage with and be part of the deliberations in established governance systems if they are to become more empowered and embedded.
It is now possible to posit several important research questions with regard to both the decline in the legitimacy of established food governance systems, and the rise of new assemblages. How will these relations evolve? Will they remain mutually incompatible and in permanent contest and competition with each other?
Or shall we eventually see some morphing and flexing of the established regulatory systems such that they begin to radically internalise both the ecological and the metabolic negative effects and externalities? That is, shall we see whole system change towards an ecological and nutrition centred food policy as advocated by some expert groups now in Brussels e. Food ; IPES. The question will be — as we shall see in many of the succeeding papers - that this is putting an emphasis upon more reflexive and innovative state support systems, perhaps at place-based levels.
In order for the new food assemblages to become more empowered and potentially transformatory therefore, our evidence suggests several areas of action and opportunity, which need to be addressed.
What We Talked About At ISA: Cognitive Assemblages | The Disorder Of Things
First, there needs to be far more recognition and opportunity for these assemblages to be brought into and made part of the central decision-making structures of the existing multi-level, state-based regulatory and policy frames. This means, as we see in the case of the Welsh Government see the paper by Ana Moragues Faus and Bridin Carroll [this issue] , the recognition and prioritisation of food poverty alleviation as an area of government action.
At city municipality levels many authorities e. London, Rotterdam and Rome are embracing food policy councils and are now setting sustainable food targets. Hence a key empowering and potentially transforming process involves the proactive participation of assemblages as part of more reflexive, strategic and deliberative food governance. Second, a major challenge is to enrol conventional farmers and their unions into the food sustainability and security debates and policy framings. This is a recognisable major challenge and obstacle as the majority of farmers are still highly dependent upon the conventional regulatory regimes outlined above.
They are dependent on retail and catering corporates for their price and quality settings; and far too many are also still highly dependent upon EU state subsidies. BREXIT in the UK and the debates about potential radical reform of the EU CAP after may be a political opportunity to unify the farming lobbies with the alternative food movements, and to significantly modernise agricultural policy along a wider set of food and nutritional security principles associated with quality food provision, bio-diversity enhancement and health and well being.
Alternative food assemblages are distinguished partly by their distributed rather than concentrated geographies of production, processing and consumption. They do not abide by the same centralised and scalar logics as the retailer-led logistical and concentrated chains. Thus far, many suffer getting goods to market, or meeting urban consumers demands.
In addition, government bodies also tend to prefer to deliver and fund programmes and procurement contracts to large and concentrated delivery agents, rather than groups of smaller and distributed actors. This is particularly a problem for the much-needed growth in fruit and vegetable production and supply, which not only requires local and distributed levels of pump-priming funding, but also a more diverse set of wholesaling, retail and consuming outlets.
The paper in Ecology and Society by Hebinck et al. There is some evidence at the UN, EU and city and regional levels that such spaces of deliberation are beginning to be enacted i. In order to do this it will be necessary to enrol politicians as well as government officers into the arenas of alternative and new food politics.
Forms of coalition-building and future visioning become important for the alternative assemblages, almost because, by their nature, they can be seen as fragmented and in competition with one another. Some level of translocal coordination between a range of different assemblages become an important challenge, as we have seen in our analysis of sustainable food in city networks and community food co-operatives.
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Government support is needed in fostering these coordinating mechanisms, as in the creation of national and regional food policy councils. All of this takes political will and requires recognition on the part of established state structures that they can no longer marginalise food policy concerns or ring-fence them under narrow sectoral or scientific specifications.
In order for this to be truly transformative it will involve a pragmatic re-organisation of the rules, regulations and eventually power relations. Critical here will be the rising legitimacy of new collaborations and coalitions between both producer and consumer interests and actors, and more reflexive governance processes and structures which are confident enough to allow such assemblage voices and the power to re-design and re-build food futures.
Such fragmentation unfolds, and has unfolded over time, as different configurations in which food is produced, procured, distributed and consumed. These configurations are theoretically and methodologically conceptualised as assemblages. This is, indeed, the main postulate of this special section of the journal. Food -associated assemblages appear potentially as platforms of transformation, distinguished as sites where a rebuilding of the food system takes place. Assemblage theory is thus an attempt to go beyond the social per se: to include the material as objects of study and to explore how social actors engage the material e.
Assemblages thus stand for — in our case — those associations of practices and relationships concerned with the production, consumption and distribution of food, connecting consumers with producers and processors of food, as well as town and country-side, and more generally the global with the local. Typical of food assemblages is a continuous reassembling of old and new ideas and the reassembling of resources in many different ways.
More specifically, socio-material and natural realities and practices are reassembled to form new expressions that did not exist before. Part of the complexity — and our challenge — that emerges from this is argument is showing empirically that the actual process of reassembling does not follow a single logic or one master plan. Thus the more fragmented food landscape in Europe and elsewhere are approached as being constituted of a range of often contrasting assemblages that co-exist and interact with one another; continuously producing new assemblages.
At the level of discourse and networks these are separate and barely interacting assemblages that hardly share a common view on the future of food and sustainable development. Assemblages driven by corporate interest groups clearly hinge on continuous and new rounds of industrialisation of food production and consumption and can be captured as such.
This modernisation of the food security paradigm argues for modern, scientifically sound production technologies, efficient in terms of resource use, market driven, cheap and efficient marketing systems, combining spaces of cheap production with those of consumption. These are often centrally organised and vertically coordinated e. These assemblages truly span the globalising world and at the same time perform in such a way that they produce a globalising world. Cures for problems are found in fine-tuning the modern food system Marsden A second, contrasting paradigm to attain food security centres around agro-ecological principles of regional food sovereignty , autonomy of production and consumption, shorter regional oriented food networks, driven by different and often more horizontally organised and poly-centred markets Altieri and Toledo ; Hebinck et al.
This selection process followed in-depth national analyses of FNS in each country, a media analysis demonstrating the variable rise of FNS concerns since ; and a more detailed Delphi survey and analysis of key European stakeholders focussing on their understanding of FNS see Moragues-Faus et al.
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The eventual selection of assemblage cases were clustered as follows: 1 those assemblages that focussed on re-enforcing food entitlements of traditional and newly emerging vulnerable groups; 2 those assemblages clearly attempting to re-connect sustainability and health, and 3 those that attempt rebuilding food systems through fostering new and novel urban-rural synergies.
These were later regrouped and subdivided as follows: a Assemblages that have a common agenda for addressing food entitlements though various forms of food assistance. Food banks and related agencies and actor configurations play central but, as we shall see, varying roles; b Assemblages where social struggles to access productive resources such as land play a constituent role. These assemblages are best labelled as peri- urban land-access movements; c A third set of assemblages hinge on increasing consumer-citizen commitment which has become a regular feature, and again expressed in different ways.
This includes urban food project and city food councils; and d A final set of assemblages that were found relevant for our objectives deal with public procurement and aspects of preparedness. These kinds of assemblages are captured by public catering as well as by school feeding projects.
This introduction is followed by a series of empirically-based articles that analytically address the aforementioned assemblages. Hebinck and Oostindie elaborate in some detail the theoretical and methodological foundation for exploring FNS-assemblages that have emerged in the European food landscape. They position their paper vis-a-vis the food security literature and strands in the food literature, which emphasise that continued and extended modernisation is required to address food poverty and insecurity.
Their innovative contribution is to conceptualise the assemblages as evolving around the creation of novel governance arrangements. They argue that the assemblages emerged as concrete responses to a gradual but definitive retreat of the welfare state as part of neo-liberalisation and globalization tendencies and its closely associated expansion of different types of FNS vulnerabilities.
Their paper sets the tone for most of the other papers in this special section of Food Security. Pedro Cerrada-Serra et al. The struggle for land access is particularly important in order to be able to engage in urban agriculture, and this is central to new forms of production for addressing food related entitlements - an essential for coming to grips with what urban agriculture means for food poverty.
Ana Moragues Faus and Bridin Carroll reflect in their contribution on the integrative plans and urban food governance approaches. In order to understand these policy trajectories they mobilise a political ecology framework to explore how the specific configurations of nature and society express themselves in the processes and outcomes of urban food policies. Drawing on the experiences of two European cities Cardiff and Cork they argue that sustainable food transitions are conditioned by the specific socio-ecological configurations of individual cities.
They argue that food assistance initiatives succeed in bringing together institutions, organisations and civil society in order to address food poverty in novel ways - pursuing a systems approach to the analysis of governance relations in food assistance across different countries. Data for their analysis is from Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland. Drawing on data from Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom, they set out to establish new linkages between food security debates and the critical AFN literature.
In this way they strive to overcome the limitations of food security conceptual frameworks, which tend to be locked into fixed levels of scale and generalised, as well as oppositional assumptions. The article by Mikelis Grivins et al. Drawing on empirical material from Latvia and Finland, they offer a conceptual model that helps to re-establish the links between the regulated elements of the food system.
They show in detail how the separate regulations are aligned and what difficulties emerge in developing and implementing school meal provision as part of complex food policy. Andre Deppermann et al. And how did it legitimate and promote controversial programmes of harm reduction such as needle exchange in prisons and methadone substitution on a national scale?
How can this paradox be followed in the field, given agency, image and voice?
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What does drugs politics reveal about government and power? That is why I refer throughout the book to another figure of speech to cast light on the case: the oxymoron. The juxtaposition of otherwise apparently and allegedly incongruent elements can be explained by the acceptance that reality has and perhaps must have an oxymoronic dimension.
Facebook , also in the West — allegory becomes a prime form of expression and materialisation of events that would otherwise not be coherent. This line of inquiry conducted to the art of managing disorder. To understand how to manage disorder instead of disposing order, one needs to tackle a condition that is sharp and foolish at the same — an oxymoron — the image aptly fitting the situation through which the drug war in Iran — and differently elsewhere — is reproduced.
From a practical point of view, I adopted a variety of methodological tools in carrying out this project. One of the most conventional ways of expanding research data is that of interviewing stakeholders. I decided to do so, aware, however, of the limits that the Iranian political context put in front of researchers. It also did not seem the best strategy on qualitative grounds; public officials and state representatives have a bureaucratic tendency to reproduce the official position of the state, about which I was all too aware given also my rich archive of public declarations in the newspapers.
To gain fresh insight from state representatives I needed to be accepted as a member of the drug policy community — an endeavour that fell naturally in my academic profile. As a prohibitionist organisation, the UNODC has enjoyed positive relations, compared to other international agencies, with the Iranian government, a fact that helped my integration into the drug policy community. As an Oxford doctoral student, I was received with respect and my views were taken more seriously than I probably deserved.
By that time, I was an active member of this community, I was included in the selective mailing list and newsletters, including the social media venues i. Telegram app in which issues where often debated. In other words, I developed a certain familiarity with the people who I wanted to interview, a fact that I believe positively shaped the exchange of information.
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The core of my personal archive for this research, however, is represented by a collection of newspaper articles, reports, official documents, unpublished material and images dating between and Not only does this feature enable us to follow the allegory of the drug phenomenon in the public discourse, it also facilitates the ethnographic use of newspapers, especially when political debates are grounded in state intervention in the field. Content analysis and deconstruction were central in this process.
Familiarity with the UNDOC office put me in a privileged position in finding technical material on drug policy programmes implemented or discussed in Iran between and I had the opportunity to read internal reports, unpublished and published statistics, and communications between the Iranian ministries, the DCHQ and the UN office as well as international reports. The publications of the DCHQ also proved an important source for data on policy implementation, as well as a rich and readily available collection of proposals, views and ideas about drug policy. I found myself in the position for long enough to be immersed in the role I was mistakenly given — thus gaining original insight in what it means to be a drug user in that part of the city — before taking out my business card with the Oxford logo and handing it to the very embarrassed doctor.
Mimesis and immersion can be of great value — and reward — in the field. Political ethnographies, in fact, need to be multi-sited for the simple reason that politics has no clear boundaries and the processes that produce the political are often not confined to an office, a ministry, a group of individuals or a certain geographical area.