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The Food Citizens? conference

On Friday 4th February 2022 we welcomed in hybrid format (in person and online live streaming) 154 registered participants, of which 97 online, to present the first results of the Food Citizens? ERC Consolidator project.

After working together for four years, the speakers presented the project’s comparative research framework and methodology (Cristina Grasseni, Principal Investigator), the field research in Gdańsk, Turin and Rotterdam and the relevant themes emerging from 16 months ethnography (Ola Gracjasz, Maria Vasile and Vincent Walstra, Ph.D. candidates), and the i-doc namely the project’s interactive digital platform that will be launched February 28th on this website (Federico De Musso, postdoc).

Cristina Grasseni’s introduction retraced the steps of the making of the project, highlighting the comparative research design of the project which makes use of concerted, collaborative steps for a narrative approach to ethnographic comparison. The reader can retrace each milestone by consulting the readings lists, literature review, research protocol and ‘taking stock’ seminars available as public resources on our website, as part of our dissemination and outreach effort. Other forthcoming output are two journal special issues currently submitted and under review – one on Collaboration, Comparison and Mediation for Anthrovision (VANEASA online journal) and one on Skills for Sustainability for KE, the Journal of Swedish Anthropology, in collaboration with Maris Gillette (Gothenburg University) - and of course the PhD dissertations, which are in the making. 

While thanking our interlocutors and research participants, without whom, and whose time and consent, this research would not be possible, we are also grateful to our advisory board members, who in different capacities have commented on the project submission, facilitated its implementation, responded to its developments, participated in workshops in Leiden and Gdańsk in 2018, 2019 and 2020, joined us for seminars and book presentations, and are planning our ‘restitution workshops’ in Turin and Gdańsk, to be held in the course of 2022, with us. Advisory board members Agata Bachorz, Francesca Forno, Colin Sage and Paolo Graziano acted as discussants, together with Leiden colleagues Francesco Ragazzi and Sander Hölsgens who kindly responded to our i-doc and Winter School digital projects.

Scholars and civil servants, practitioners and representatives of associations - many of whom participated online from abroad - were informed about the project and supported it by facilitating access to the field and introducing the PhDs to cities they were entirely new to. We take this opportunity to thank them: Andrea Saroldi (ReteGAS), Elena di Bella (Città Metropolitana di Torino), Vittorio Bianco (Orti Metropolitani Torinesi), Aetzel Griffioen (Rotterdam Vakmanstad), Jan Willem van der Schans (Task Force Korte Keten), Cees Bronsveld (Eetbaar Rotterdam), Jaro Stacul (Memorial University of Newfoundland) and Jacek Kołtan (European Solidarity Centre).

The conference also completed the project’s Winter School, which engaged nine Masters and PhD students and five members of the Food Citizens? team in teaching and learning Digital Visual Engagements in Anthropological Research over two weeks. We also wish to thank the other members of the team who have contributed to the project since it began in September 2017: Robin Smith (postdoc), Hanna Stalenhoef (research assistant) and Marilena Poulopoulou as current research assistant.

We wish to thank the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University, represented at the Conference by Scientific Director Bart Barendregt and Research Director Marja Spierenburg, for the many ways in which it supports this project in scientific and administrative terms (including encouraging the extension of this project) but especially for developing a protocol for ethnographic research in times of COVID-19 at a challenging moment, when even asking to go or stay in the field, or meet in person to carry out our narrative approach to comparative ethnography, seemed odd.

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