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News from the Food Citizens? team

At the project closure on February 29, 2024.

At the project closure on February 29, 2024, we are happy to report on how the entire team is doing and where they are going next.

The project has noble goals – to better understand how European food systems work and how small groups and individuals affect change in them. The unique doctoral dissertations and other research outputs from the project – including academic texts, digital worlds, and real-life meetings – will leave a meaningful mark in so many ways. Despite the closing of our project, the work of our group of food citizen researchers is far from over, and indeed may have only just begun as our members develop their interests and home in on where they want their research to have impact.

We are at a moment where the European Union is seeking ways to lessen its carbon emissions, leading farmers to protest new regulatory changes. Meanwhile, consumers are holding lighter grocery bags that cost more than ever. The highly vertically integrated food system is not working for those in it or those who rely on it for sustenance. So, the global food system is failing most of us, and Food Citizens, and the alternative food networks it has elevated, is a rejoinder. Other templates of food procurement exist, and they can be kinder, healthier, and more humane. Our PhDs on the project have brought nuance to the food citizenship table, presenting thorny local issues that are navigated by resilient communities as they seek to cultivate alternative food worlds.

Federico de Musso

Federico de Musso (postdoc on the project) is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University. He continues his work in visual ethnography, graphic anthropology, and interactive documentary.

Federico has recently presented his work in progress at the workshop “Images, sound and performance as ways of knowing” jointly organized by McGill’s Critical Media Lab and Ca’ Foscari Venezia. From the 4th to the 8th of March, the workshop explored multiple forms of creating and relating to images at large. It provided a beautiful environment for sharing experiences coming from anthropology, the arts, and other disciplines concerned with sonic and visual imagistic perspectives. On the 4th of March, Federico’s contribution centered around the possibilities of talking about genealogies as methodology, dissemination strategy, and the subject of research. Federico explained the rationale behind the different sensibilities he uses in his work to organize sensory ethnographic experiments in texts, i-docs, comics, video games, and exhibitions.

Presentations from our Advisory Board members were diverse and engaging, giving us a window into contemporary Poland through the lens of food.

Ola Gracjasz

Ola Gracjasz (Ph.D. candidate on the project) is based in Brussels as a photographer and anthropologist,  is about to submit her dissertation, and is publishing a chapter in the forthcoming Handbook of Ecstatic Religions for Bloomsbury’.

Cristina Grasseni

Cristina Grasseni (PI of the project) is co-editing an Encyclopaedia of Economic Anthropology with Erik Bähre, Douglas Holmes and Coco Kanters for Edward Elgar Publishers, and will deliver a keynote speech at the upcoming SIEF conference (24th International Ethnological Food Research Conference, Museum of Ethnography, Budapest, Hungary) on Living Eating Habits, Revitalized Foodways and the Concepts of Tradition and Food Heritage in September 2024.

Marilena Poulopoulou

Marilena Poulopoulou (research assistant on the project) is data steward at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of the University of AmsterdamMarilena reflected on her time on the project:

“Looking back at the time I was part of the Food Citizens team, I realize how influential this project has been to my own professional development! Between January 2020 and August 2022, I have supported the Food Citizens team as the project’s research assistant.

During that time, I had the chance to assist in organizing project activities and to coordinate with the project’s PI regarding the project’s management. Next to witnessing a team of anthropologists work together closely to analyse and compare their respective field sites in Italy, Poland and The Netherlands on the topic of collective food procurement (an amazing experience in its own right!), I was also introduced to the professional field of research management. The various insights into how research and the university are organized, the requirements research funders such as the ERC have and all the administrative steps researchers need to take in the undertaking of externally funded research have been pivotal in helping me develop my current professional profile.

In particular, my engagement with research data management and privacy law requirements for the Food Citizens project, gave my valuable knowledge on how to organize, store, share and finally archive a wide variety of ethnographic material such as videos, photos, field reports, interview and focus group transcripts. This experience led me to my current position as data steward at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of the University of Amsterdam, a position I very much enjoy! Thank you Food Citizens for the nice times and all the gained knowledge!”

Robin Smith

Robin Smith (postdoc on the project) is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at Copenhagen Business School. She has just sent the copyedits of a 14-contributor edited volume Anthropology & Tax: Ethnographies of Fiscal Relations due out later this summer, and is writing papers on informal debt resolution practices amongst Croatian rural businesses, amongst other things. The Food Citizen? project led to writing a chapter on urban gardening through the lens of the anthropology of citizenship in the book, Food System Transformations, and together with Cristina Grasseni, an article in Anthropology Today reflecting on solidarity practices amongst farmers. Subsequently, moving in a somewhat different direction, she created a network of anthropologists studying the various ways taxation shapes our world that is also an EASA network. The project additionally informed her thinking around the agrifood production and distribution sectors more broadly. Conversations with our food citizens allowed for a zooming out to the larger political economic implications of what had looked like very localized business practices, which contributed to her thinking around how predatory economies work, and which led to her current project Tax evasion for market control: Predatory economies in practice, that focuses on power dynamics in the post-socialist European agri-food system. 

Hanna Stalenhoef

Hanna Stalenhoef (research assistant on the project), after spending the last four years as researcher at the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management, is currently guest researcher at Leiden University and a freelance Communication Specialist, Photographer and Illustrator.

Maria Vasile

Maria Vasile (Ph.D. candidate on the project) defended her dissertation in September 2023  and is currently a post-doc at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa.

Vincent Walstra

Vincent Walstra (Ph.D. candidate on the project) is completing his dissertation while currently a scientific researcher at the Dutch Social and Cultural Planning Agency in the programme Citizens Visions, Policy visions and Behaviours.

Together, our researchers are tackling a broad range of food citizenship and food system issues and are contributing to positive change through their work. We look forward to seeing what the future brings!

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