@ Food Justice Conference, Reading University, 16-17 July 2014

The Food Justice: knowing food/securing the future conference was held at the University of Reading, UK on the 16-17 July 2014 and chaired by Dr Agatha Herman with support from Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans and Professor Mike Goodman (all University of Reading).  This event was sponsored by the Geographies of Justice research group, the RGS-IBG, the Norma Wilkinson trust and the School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Reading.  The programme included a range of different activities to provoke discussion and engage with some of the key contemporary issues within the ‘food justice’ arena.  This included thought-provoking keynotes from David McAuley (Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust) and Professor Liz Dowler (University of Warwick) as well as the engaging and accessible Norma Wilkinson public lecture by Professor Nik Heynen (University of Georgia).  These were complimented by a range of excellent papers exploring:

  1. Concepts of Justice in the Context of Food
  2. The Local and the Everyday as Arenas of Food Justice
  3. Food Cultures and Politics
  4. Alternative Spaces of Production
  5. Food Poverty and Challenging Issues of Access
  6. Developing Food Justice
  7. Radical Consumption

In addition, the conference saw the launch of the Walker Institute Research Note 'Cashew, access to land and food security in Brong Ahafo region, Ghana: preventing the intergenerational transmission of poverty' by Dr. Ruth Evans (University of Reading) and Drs Simon Mariwah and Kwabena Barima Antwi (University of Ghana).  This was included in a panel session with Dr Nicola Ansell (Brunel University) and Erinch Sahan (Oxfam) that considered some of the justice issues involved in development.  On the final afternoon, the delegates participated in a creative workshop exploring the contemporary challenges in food justice and devising collaborative project ideas to address and engage with these.

The conference brought together 70 delegates from a diverse range of multidisciplinary backgrounds and was a mix of established academics, early career researchers, postgraduate students and representatives of civil society organisations.  This created a friendly and open forum with lots of opportunities for new collaborations and discussions over the two days.

The Geographies of Justice research group was pleased to support travel bursaries for a number of postgraduate, early career and civil society delegates in order to broaden participation.  The following are reflections on the conference by three of the postgraduate and early career researchers who were awarded a bursary:

“Attending the Food Justice Conference at Reading has been a highly influential step for me as an early career postgraduate researcher. This warm, welcoming and extremely friendly forum was my first academic conference and I am immensely proud to have had the chance to speak about my research. The platform was an open and even playing field, where contributions from PhD researchers such as myself were valued with a parity of equality with findings from researchers world renowned within their field. I felt valued as a contributor (and stood next to and was listened to by my BA, MA and PhD literature review heroes Liz Dowler and Moya Kneafsey!) and I feel that I have now truly begun to have my name recognised in food bank research and, for an early career research student, I’m sure everyone can remember how good and important this feels.”

“Thanks to receiving a bursary from the Geographies of Justice Research Group, I was able to attend the Food Justice 2014 Conference at the University of Reading. The conference was a great two-day event, which welcomed researchers at every level and members of civil society, all engaged in aspects of researching and cultivating food justice.

As a master’s student I am not funded to attended conferences, however the University of Leeds, provided my attendance fee and the Geographies of Justice Research Group enable me to travel from Yorkshire. I presented my paper ‘Growing and Eating as Resistance: food justice in Palestine’, based on my masters’ thesis fieldwork in the West Bank. The conference provided an excellent environment for feedback, networking and encouragement. I thoroughly enjoyed myself over the two days and am looking forward to exploring the ideas and connections that came from it. Thanks to the University of Leeds and Geographies of Justice Research Group.”

"I found the University of Reading's Food Justice conference an important space to not only explore a diverse approach to matters relating to food issues but to also have highly useful discussions helping me as an ECR to plan the next stages of writing and career progression. I have not attended a similarly useful and significant conference elsewhere, as the focus on food within geography can be siloed, reducing the range of conversations possible. I particularly welcomed the range of debates and analytical frameworks under discussion at the conference with its interdisciplinary focus. This provided an arena for a spectrum of matters of food and food justice to be raised and debated. I believe I have made some important contacts and would very much hope such a conference can become a regular event."

We’re delighted with the success of the conference and would like to thank all the delegates for their contributions, without which it would not have been so thought-provoking and fun!  For more information on the conference please visit or take a look at the tweets generated under #foodjustice2014.

Last modified: Fri, 01 Aug 2014 16:55:43 BST