AAG 2017 CFP: ‘Doing’ Critical Human Geography Research? Processes, Practices, Challenges, and Possibilities

CFP: ‘Doing’ Critical Human Geography Research? Processes, Practices, Challenges, and Possibilities

Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Boston, MA — April 5-9, 2017

What do daily engagements with research look like for critical geographers? How do researchers connect critical methodological frameworks with the methods they use without reproducing dominant subjectivities? Taking guidance from woman of colour scholars (e.g., Ali, 2013; Nagar, 2013) as well as anti-colonial and decolonizing methodologies (e.g., Battiste 2008; Kovach 2009; Smith 1999; Wilson 2008), we wish to expand the conversation about how everyday methodologies in geography work to challenge power dynamics shaped by white supremacy, patriarchy, neo-liberalism, and colonialism.

While critical geographers have articulated a variety of epistemological and methodological commitments (see, for example, Cloke et al., 2004; Gomez & Jones, 2010; Moss 2002; Tickell et al., 2007), figuring out how to put these commitments into practice in ways that challenge existing power relations is often unclear, as critical geographers rarely describe their methods or collaboration processes in detail, and because “geography departments continue to reflect a pervasive persistence of racialized and gendered inequities in the workplace” (Mahtani 2004, 91). The accounts that do exist tend to gloss over challenges and (im)possibilities along the way, particularly in relation to the ways that geographical methodologies often reproduce (white) academics as ‘those who know.’ In this context we are particularly interested in working through the ways that critical methodologies such as self-reflexivity, participatory action-based methodologies, and community-based research can challenge geographers to understand and do new types of research.

Within two consecutive sessions, we seek to increase the transparency of critical geography research by providing space to discuss the nitty-gritty of the process, practices, challenges, and possibilities that characterize this research. In the first paper session, presenters are invited to focus on the methodologies they use in their work, focusing on how critical scholarship influences their everyday concrete methods and research relationships. The goal here is to dig in and describe the actual, real-life processes and practices used to carry out critical geographical research. Potential topics include:

– Examples of difficulties in the field, giving space to scholars to reflect on challenges that are often smoothed out or entirely removed in final written work.
– Sharing frustrations around methods, with the goal of thinking about the (im)possibilities of “critical” academic research.
– Discussing how designing and using methods might change researchers’ understanding of theory (what we know), methods (how we come to know), and how these relate to each other

The second session will be organized as a panel discussion, inspired by “kitchen table reflexivity” (Kohl & McCutcheon, 2014), offering a space for researchers to reflect on the relationships between researchers’ positionality and their research, research methods, and the communities with whom they work. Participants will be posed a series of questions to reflect on, such as:
– How do you negotiate positionality in your work, and how has this changed over time?
– (How) can we disrupt the reproduction of power structures and dominant subjectivities through academic research?
– What does participating in knowledge production processes that speak to/with/through communities mean to you, and (how) do you do it?

Both sessions will involve a mix of senior and junior scholars working on a variety of empirical topics, and will provide plenty of time for question and answer and group discussion. Our hope is to use the papers and discussions as the basis for a book or special issue.

If you are interested in participating in either the paper session or the panel, please contact Sarah Wakefield at sarah.wakefield@utoronto.ca before October 25, 2016.

References

Ali, R. (2015). Rethinking Representation: Negotiating Positionality, Power and Space in the Field. Gender, Place & Culture 22(6), 783–800.

Battiste, M. (2008). Research ethics for protecting Indigenous knowledge and heritage: Institutional and researcher responsibilities. Handbook of critical and Indigenous methodologies, 497-510.

Berg, L. D. (2010). Critical human geography. In B. Warf (Ed.), Encyclopedia of geography (pp. 616–621). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Cloke, P. J., Cook, I., Crang, P., Goodwin, M., Painter, J., & Philo, C. (2004). Practising human geography. London, UK; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

England, Kim VL. “Getting Personal: Reflexivity, Positionality, and Feminist Research.” The Professional Geographer 46, no. 1 (1994): 80–89.

Gomez, B., & Jones, J. P. (Eds.). (2010). Research methods in geography: a critical introduction. Chichester, UK; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Kohl, E., & McCutcheon, P. (2015). Kitchen table reflexivity: negotiating positionality through everyday talk. Gender, Place & Culture, 22(6), 747–763.

Kovach, M. (2009). Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Mahtani, M. (2004). Mapping race and gender in the academy: The experiences of women of colour faculty and graduate students in Britain, the US and Canada. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. 28(1), 91-99.

Moss, P. (Ed.). (2002). Feminist geography in practice: research and methods. Oxford, UK; Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Nagar, Richa and Susan Geiger. 2007. Reflexivity and Positionality in Feminist Fieldwork Revisited. In eds. Adam Tickell, Eric Sheppard, Jamie Peck and Trevor Barnes, Politics and Practice in Economic Geography. London: Sage, pp. 267-278.

Smith, L. T. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. New York: Zed books.

Tickell, A., Sheppard, E., Peck, J. A., & Barnes, T. J. (Eds.). (2007). Politics and Practice in Economic Geography. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Wilson, S. (2008). Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Black Point, NS: Fernwood Publishing.

Toward Anti-Colonial Food Policy in Canada? A Reflection on the People’s Food Policy Project

This is the first blog post in a series of reflections about our research team’s experiences at the Canadian Association of Food Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, June 2016.

By Lauren Kepkiewicz and Sarah Rotz

From the leadership of the late Cathleen Kneen (who will always be a role model for us) to Food Secure Canada’s (FSC) hearty Screen shot 2011-04-19 at 3_27_37 PMendorsement of the People’s Food Policy Project (Kneen, 2011) and all of their work bringing together grassroots groups from across Canada, we have long been inspired by the work of FSC. We have also been encouraged by their work with the Indigenous Circle based on the “First Principles Protocol for Building Cross-Cultural Relationships” (2010) which looks “to Indigenous people for guidance” and aims to “work in partnership in changing destructive relationships” while building shared, caring and respectful relationships between each other and Mother Earth.

We went back to this document along with the People’s Food Policy after a lunch roundtable discussion co-organized with FSC about building a national food policy at the most recent CAFS conference in Toronto (2016). During the roundtable question period, an audience member brought up the need to consider how the 3 pillar approach to a food policy might be rooted in a colonial framework that fragments different parts of the food system. This was followed by other comments about the need to “include”, “give voice to” and “involve” Indigenous peoples in developing this national food policy. As the conversation wrapped up, one of the panellists asked, “how can we use conflict as a tool in process?” while another asked, “what are the conversations we want to have as Canadians across food?”, pointing to the opportunities the Truth and Reconciliation Commission offers to talk about Indigenous food sovereignty while linking it with other movements.

We would like to highlight the ways that these opening and closing comments speak to how we settlers might move forward – for example, by emphasizing the importance of process, of conflict/discomfort, and of recognizing how non-Indigenous frameworks are often rooted in colonial narratives. We also want to consider the ways in which the conversations in between these opening and ending comments make visible some of the tensions within Indigenous-settler relations (i.e. calls to include, give voice, and involve).

Inclusion

First, let us consider the language of inclusion. Anti-colonial and anti-racist scholars and activists have shown that the language of inclusion must be used with caution (e.g. Jodi Byrd, Kimberlé Crenshaw, bell hooks, Bonita Lawrence, and Lee Maracle, to name a few). On one hand, this language involves welcoming and working together. On the other hand, it is important to consider the ways that dominant groups, such as the ones that the two of us are apart of (white, settler, able-bodied, etc.), often use “inclusion” to call for the participation of nondominant groups, without engaging with the ways that this participation might require transforming underlying projects themselves. From our perspective, food justice work isn’t about including those who are marginalized in nation state related projects spearheaded by primarily white settler people, but rather, engaging in ways that support the work and resistance already happening within these communities. Moreover, food justice is about working within our own communities to understand how everyday actions make us complicit in—and help reproduce—the structures and institutions that marginalize certain communities in the first place.

More specifically, settler people such as ourselves need to consider the ways that inclusion has continually been used to coopt Indigenous peoples into the Canadian colonial project. For example, Lee Maracle explains that “Constitutional inclusion [of Indigenous peoples] has only served to maintain the colonial history and practice of dismantling Indigenous national governments by sanctioning colonial rule” (2003, 310). Jodi Byrd further explains that “As indigenous scholars have argued, inclusion into the multicultural cosmopole, built on top of indigenous lands, does not solve colonialism: that inclusion is the very site of the colonization that feeds U.S. empire” (2011, 10).

Giving Voice

Second, we want to address the common phrase of “giving voice” to marginalized groups. For us, this phrase and action fails to recognize the obvious truth that marginalized communities have long had their own voices and have continually articulated the most important and complex understandings of oppression. It also fails to recognize that dominant groups are often the root of the problem: that it is their/our ears who have refused (or are unable) to listen due to their/our positionality within the structure of settler colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy. “Giving voice” suggests that dominant groups are the ones with the power to produce liberatory politics, rather than focusing on the ways that marginalized communities continue to struggle for their own liberation (regardless of the fact that the ears of dominant groups remain plugged). In this context, we suggest discarding the move to “give voice” and instead suggest the possibilities of breaking down structures that deafen ears in the first place and taking action guided by the struggles and voices of marginalized communities.

Involvement

Third, we want to tease apart some of the tensions around settler calls to involve Indigenous peoples in developing governmental policies, such as a national food policy. In one sense, yes, as settlers it would be ideal to develop policy in collaboration with Indigenous nations. However, when settlers ask for (and increasingly expect) this kind of involvement, we need to be clear about the context and relation within which we are asking for Indigenous involvement. The Canadian government’s relation to Indigenous nations continues to be one of settler colonialism. This relationship is based in the logic of Indigenous elimination: settler colonialism “destroys to replace” (Wolfe, 2006). Indeed, settler colonial logics allow settlers to feel as though they have rightful claim over land and resources that are not theirs. Within this context, it is crucial to consider what it means to ask for Indigenous involvement in the development of government policies and strategies. For settlers, inclusion/involvement might feel like a step toward reconciliation. However, are we actually giving up power if we enter into the development process with pre-formed frameworks, scales, and limits in place? Additionally, how might these pre-formed frameworks, scales, and limits impact Indigenous work toward a decolonization that involves the repatriation of Indigenous land and ways of life?

Regarding Indigenous involvement in national food policy development, we think it is essential to continually ask: a national strategy for what and for whom? It is so often assumed that these kinds of policies address everyone’s needs, when in reality, that would be impossible without, for instance, demanding equal rights and citizenship for migrant food workers and repatriating lands to Indigenous peoples: demands that may feel indeterminate and uncomfortable for many white settlers.

Ways Forward?

So what does this mean for those of us interested in developing a national food policy while working within current structures? With this blog post, we advocate for beginning with the PFPP and First Principles Protocol in developing a national food policy strategy. No doubt these documents will change, as they are living documents, but we believe they provide an important starting place, particularly to continue relationships and conversations with Indigenous communities. We echo Indigenous activists and academics who emphasize the ways that process is vital. We also think it necessary to ask questions like: How do we work through this process in a way that respects nation-to-nation relationships between Indigenous and settler peoples on this land? And perhaps more uncomfortably, how do settlers continue to strive for good relationships, especially when decolonization becomes, as Tuck and Yang describe (2012), incommensurable with settler processes and objectives, and requires white settlers to cede power, land or privilege?

In thinking through these questions, we return to the First Principles Protocol and the People’s Food Policy Project (particularly policy discussion paper one on Indigenous food sovereignty), which offer a number of useful tenets. Specifically, the First Principles Protocol commits to engaging in ‘activities and policy creation that is not ‘about’ Indigenous peoples’ food systems but learns from and is informed by the experiences and expertise gained through a multi-millennia of practice.’ For us, this means that food work moving forward should be premised on the actions and resistance of Indigenous nations, and directed by their visions of liberation and decolonization. This might mean a policy that integrates both settler and Indigenous nations, but not necessarily; alternatively, it may mean creating a “national” policy for Canada that works together but separate from Indigenous nations and their frameworks for food sovereignty. The key point is moving forward in ways that respect Indigenous autonomy and nation-to-nation relationships.

As the People’s Food Policy Project stresses, Indigenous peoples speak for themselves, an assertion that applies to all aspects of the discussion. Also, the addition of a 7th pillar of food sovereignty – food is sacred – can guide our work through its emphasis on the ways that “food, water, soil, and air are not viewed as “resources” but as sources of life itself” (PFPP, 9). The priority recommendations in the PFPP (11-12) include that we “return to the original nation-to-nation agreements” and “heal and rebuild (reconcile) contemporary relationships.” To advance these recommendations, settler peoples have a particular responsibility to “deepen our understanding and work towards respectful relationships”—as identified in the First Principles Protocol.

These documents together provide space to consider how these conversations have developed, and offer a valuable framework for moving forward. The more difficult matter concerns how we, as non-Indigenous to this land, resist against the structures of settler colonialism that we all live within and that condition us in various (and often deceiving) ways. That is not to say that this conditioning is inevitable, but rather that as settlers we have a responsibility to have uncomfortable conversations and consider uncomfortable options, and further, to remain reflexive about how deeply privilege can permeate within us. Our hope is that through these personal and collective actions, settlers can move (and often stumble, buts that’s okay!) towards spaces that not only look and sound like, but embody, for Indigenous nations and peoples especially, solidarity, respect and resistance.

 

References

Byrd, Jodi. 2011. The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

First Principles Protocol for Building Cross-cultural Relationships. 2010. Indigenous Circle of the People’s Food Policy Project.  Retrieved from: http://foodsecurecanada.org/sites/foodsecurecanada.org/files/First_Principles_July_2010.pdf

Maracle, Lee. 2003. The Operation was Successful, But the Patient Died. In: Ardith Walkmen and Haile Bruce (eds.) Box of Treasures of Empty Box?: Twenty Years of Section 35. Penticton, BC: Theytus Books Ltd. 308-314

People’s Food Policy Project. 2011. Resetting the Table: A People’s Food Policy for Canada. Montreal, QC: Food Secure Canada. Retrieved from: http://foodsecurecanada.org/sites/default/files/fsc-resetting2012-8half11-lowres-en.pdf

Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. 2012. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society 1 (1): 1–40.

Wolfe, Patrick. 2006. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research 8 (4): 387–409. doi:10.1080/14623520601056240.

Save

Reflections on Citizenship, Latin American Identities and Decolonization

madelaine c. cahuas, PhD

Over the course of my research project this past year I’ve encountered numerous, engaging and at times difficult discussions on identity, race and decolonization across Latin American community organizing spaces. I hear youth asking, who are we? What do we call ourselves? What does it mean to be Black, Indigenous and Latin American in this place? This place, that is Toronto and settler colonial Canada. This kind of questioning was especially seen in the debates surrounding Bill 28 – An Act to proclaim the month of October as Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) in Ontario – passed last spring of 2015. In my project, I show how the kinds of discourses mobilized around this cultural celebration provide a telling example of how racialized migrant communities can reinforce and disrupt colonial relationships through particular citizenship and identity-building practices.

Sunera Thobani (2007) argues that in the context of a white settler state like…

View original post 1,655 more words

Local Food Production in Canada’s First National Urban Park

We all know that there is a lot of pressure on graduate researchers to produce work that is authentic and unique. While this pressure can be stressful and overwhelming, it is a great opportunity to grow as a researcher and a writer – something we often fail to embrace in the moment. With this pressure in mind, when I started looking into my research project, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to articulate my contribution in an informative and productive manner. I have spent my entire life in Scarborough, Ontario so when I heard about the Rouge National Urban Park initiative it piqued my interest. An important focus of this initiative is to provide a sustainable and healthy community through locally based food production (RNUP Management Plan, 2014). According to the Rouge National Urban Park management plan, the national urban park status will allow park visitors to reconnect with farms and farmers while providing farmers with the opportunities to showcase new ways of farming that are effective and rewarding for the community (2014). This initiative is a first for Canada and the park is expected to be among the biggest national urban parks in Canada and the United States.

While this is a great opportunity for Canada – especially for cities like Toronto, Markham and Pickering – there are several external factors associated with an initiative of such magnitude. A lot of my research looks at community participation, environmental governance and power dynamics in the creation of Canada’s first national urban park. The purpose here has been to investigate if and how the diversity of local communities is being included in the development of the park, how “relevant communities” are defined and incorporated into park planning processes; and to explore the impacts of the park on these communities, particularly in relation to the stated goals of the park (e.g. local food production and the distribution of food to low income neighbourhoods).

As I analyzed the management plan to see how the proposed land expansion will benefit the community, it became evident that the language in which the objectives are outlined is vague and unclear. While it discusses the potential for a sustainable and healthy community through locally based food production, it does not provide the contextual information that is needed to understand the proposed objectives. As of now it fails to mention if there are current farming practices that are ecologically sustainable, what kind of diversity currently exists, leasing concerns for tenant farmers, information on current stewardship and how this park is expected to improve farm infrastructure and productivity for surrounding communities. Several environmental organizations have also argued that the type of language used throughout this management plan, along with the vague descriptions of how community members have been included throughout the process, make it difficult to appreciate and/or support such a plan.

It has been an extraordinary experience to do interviews and attend events geared towards this initiative. While the writing process can be overwhelming at times, it has been remarkable and motivating to hear how others feel about this project. The Rouge National Urban Park presents both challenges and opportunities for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) as issues of inclusion, exclusion and sustainable development remain at the forefront. Keep a look out for important research findings and more on productive conversations I’ve had with local farmers and community members in the GTA!

 

References:

Fish, R., Seymour, S., & Watkins, C. (2006). Sustainable Farmland Management as Political and Cultural Discourse. The Geographic Journal, 172(3), 183-189.

Macaraig, M. (2011). Nature’s Keepers: Civil society actors and the neoliberalisation of conservation in the Rouge Park. Local Environment, 16(4), 357-374.

Parks Canada. (2014) Rouge National Urban Park Management Plan. Retrieved from http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/…/rouge/~/…/rouge/…/Rouge_Plan_Draft_EN.ashx

Pond, D. (2009). Ontario’s Greenbelt: Growth Management, Farmland Protection, and Regime Change in Southern Ontario. Canadian Public Policy, 35(4), 413-432.

Beyond Street Meat?

Hot Dog Cart

The official motto of Toronto (2015) is “diversity our strength”; yet, when it comes to the local street food scene, the city has been critiqued for failing to live up to this banner (Siabanis, 2012). This is arguably not a result of a lack of initiative. In 2009, the City of Toronto started the “A La Cart” program, a government-supported initiative that aimed to widen street food offerings by introducing branded carts with expanded, “healthier” menus (Siabanis, 2012). This project, however, was terminated in 2011 by City Council (Cook, 2014); it was ultimately not profitable for vendors, and featured several barriers to participation, such as a ban on making modifications to existing carts (Siabanis, 2012).

Following A La Cart’s demise, a Street Food Working Group was established to explore the possibility of expanding menus at Toronto’s hot dog carts. In June 2012, City Council approved the Working Group’s recommendations, amending municipal by-laws to remove legal restrictions on the types of food that street food vendors may sell from their carts or trucks. Vendors became permitted to serve what they wished, so long as their premises met Toronto Public Health’s standards regarding preparation capacity and food storage (Cook, 2014).

This change theoretically opened the door for street food vendors in Toronto to feature a wider array of product offerings at their stands. However, as of late 2014, the menus at many carts remained limited, with few selling more than an assortment of hot dogs and sausages. Why was this the case? Could things actually change? Would it be feasible to have a greater assortment of food sold at Toronto’s hot dog carts?

Working in partnership with the Toronto Food Strategy, two undergraduate colleagues and I set out to provide preliminary answers to these questions.

Over the fall and winter of 2014-2015, we held informal conversations with a sample of the city’s hot dog vendors from the downtown core. My collaborators and I asked vendors about the challenges they faced in running their businesses, their current menus, and whether they had any “dream dish” ideas of their own. While the full version of our report can be found here, the central findings of our research are worth briefly highlighting.

Downtown Map

Through our conversations with vendors, we learned that cart owners and operators were indeed interested in expanding their menus. Nearly everyone we spoke with had at least one dream dish that they wanted to add to their lineups and sell from their carts. Multiple vendors stated that they wished to supply fries, burgers, steak, and souvlaki from their stands. Others furnished more unique responses: shawarma, biryani, Japanese noodles, and Bulgarian-style ground spiced meat; chicken, ribs, lettuce wraps, and bean chili; sandwiches, salads, and warm breakfast muffins; coffee, hot chocolate, and organic honey beer were all mentioned by vendors as potential additions to their existing menus.

Dream Dish 2

Many of these dream dishes reflected a desire by vendors to express their own cultural backgrounds in their carts; however, business considerations also guided these suggestions. The product ideas that vendors discussed were seen as ways to make additional profits during slow winter months, to offset competition from fast food restaurants and food courts, and to keep up with rival cart and food truck operators. In asking about their dream dishes, then, my collaborators and I learned that vendors did wish to expand their menus to include a wider selection of items.

Yet, despite these desires, vendors were reluctant to make any tangible changes to their current product lineups. The reasons for this were four-fold.

Barriers

Space: In order to be able to add more items to their menus, vendors needed additional space to prepare, refrigerate, and store this food. Some also said the design or layout of their cart would have to change to accommodate the equipment that selling new products would require. Vendors argued that existing regulations were preventing them from making these changes. City bylaws specify that vendors are not allowed to take up more than 2.32 square metres of sidewalk space. Cart owners and operators felt these sidewalk footprint rules were too restrictive. They wanted the City to give them more room to operate. One vendor specifically requested “an extra 4 feet” of space on the sidewalk, a change he felt would allow him to introduce shawarma to his cart. Another vendor feared that modifying his grill setup – an adjustment he thought was necessary to expand his menu – would draw the attention of the City and cause him to be shut down. He complained: “We’re limited – they like to micromanage.” There was a general consensus among vendors that the City must allow them to take up more space on the sidewalk, and adopt a more hands-off approach when it came to cart layout, in order for them to effectively expand their menus.

Permits: Permits were seen as another barrier. Vendors thought that excessive paperwork would be involved in expanding their menus. Many were also unclear about how the permit process worked or what City permits allowed for. Some vendors thought their dream dish ideas would not be approved by the City, and that they would be shut down if they tried to introduce new items. Others believed, incorrectly, that they had to seek out a special permit to sell new products. Talk of needing to get a “fries permit” at an additional fee was common. One vendor knew that he would have to request a change to his existing permit if he was to introduce new items, but he viewed this process as too much of a hassle. There was thus a lot of uncertainty and animosity among vendors about the permitting process, and this was partly to blame for a lack of action on the part of vendors to expand their menus.

Demand: A perceived lack of public demand and fears of high competition were a third barrier. Some vendors felt it would be too risky to sell new items in their carts. There was no guarantee that people would buy them, especially if food trucks or restaurants were nearby that already sold similar products. In addition, a few vendors were concerned that people would never go to a hot dog cart to buy something other than a hot dog or sausage. To quote one vendor: “If you’re gonna eat healthy, you’re not gonna come here.” A fear that any new items simply would not sell was another factor responsible for keeping cart menus limited.

Employment Status: A final barrier to menu expansion raised by vendors was their employment status. Some who had compelling ideas for new products were simply waged or salaried employees, and were not the actual cart owners. These workers felt that their thoughts could not result in action because they did not have the power to challenge their bosses about the current cart menus. This sense of precarity also functioned to maintain the menu status-quo.

The revelation of these four barriers prompted my collaborators and I to present the following recommendations to the Toronto Food Strategy:

1) The City should work with vendors, local business improvement areas, and other actors to reformulate its by-laws about the use of sidewalk space. Spatial constraints were, by far, the most-cited barrier to menu expansion. Providing vendors with more room to prepare, store, and refrigerate their food could allow them to add to their menus. At the same time, issuing more space may help alleviate prospective public fears of spoilage or poor sanitation, if potential customers can see that vendors are able to make adjustments to keep pace with enhanced offerings.

2) The City should strengthen its communication with hot dog vendors, particularly in terms of conveying its rules. There seemed to be a lot of confusion surrounding permits, what vendors were legally allowed to sell, and how they were to go about getting permission to do so. Better outreach could help address this uncertainty, increase trust with the City, and reduce fears of spontaneous shut-downs that many cart operators worried may occur if they decided to modify their menus. Information that is shared with cart owners should also be communicated to their employees, wherever this is applicable.

3) Finally, vendors must be shown that an actual demand does indeed exist for expanded menu offerings. Cart owners will not make changes to their menus unless they can be assured that the public will respond favourably. Surveys, product taste-tests, and marketing assistance, perhaps with help from the City or the private sector, are some of the potential ways that this demand can be demonstrated to those with the greatest capacity to effect change.

As this preliminary research demonstrates, food carts in Toronto need not just sell hot dogs – the potential is there, in our city, to move beyond street meat.

——————–

References: 

City of Toronto. (2015). Coat of arms and city motto. Retrieved from http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=6fd87aac783a1410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextchannel=83574d3dab5f1410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

Cook, T. (2014). New opportunities for Toronto’s street food vendors. Retrieved from http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2014/ls/bgrd/backgroundfile-67349.pdf

Province of Ontario. (2010). Appendix: Nutrition standards for Ontario schools. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/Appendix150.pdf

Siabanis, N. (2012, Jan. 6). Grey Toronto: The food vending situation. Spacing. Retrieved from http://spacing.ca/toronto/2012/01/06/grey-toronto-the-food-vending-situation/

When the Field is Home: Building a Latina Feminist Research Praxis

Check out Madelaine’s new blog post reflecting on the challenges and possibilities of doing research!

madelaine c. cahuas, PhD

I’m almost a month into starting my interviews with Latin American women across the Greater Toronto Area who have been, or are currently involved in social and environmental justice activism; and I’m overwhelmed in the best way possible. After much internal turmoil of how I was going to present my research project to community members and my compañerxs, my work has received more interest than I ever anticipated. My worry stemmed from the ways researchers have historically, and continue to extract knowledge from racialized and working-class communities to further agendas that do little to nothing to work in solidarity with their struggles for liberation. I knew that the people I wanted to speak to, Latin American activists, would already be keenly aware of this and would most likely challenge me to consider the contradictions of my position as a Latina conducting research with her “ethnic community” in the academy.

I…

View original post 977 more words

FEAST project description

Hello and welcome to the website for the Food, Equity, and Activism Study Team (FEAST) based at the University of Toronto in the Department of Geography and Planning. Our Research Team is composed of Professor Sarah Wakefield and her graduate students: Madelaine Cahuas, Michael Chrobok, Jina Gill, Lauren Kepkiewicz, Jillian Linton, Sam Walker, Madeline Whetung and Nil Alt.

Research Project

FEAST is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded project that explores the various ways different communities organize around social justice issues, particularly – although not exclusively – in relation to food. We are especially interested in how equity-seeking groups (particularly communities of colour and Indigenous communities) in North America engage with social justice and /or food system issues, as well as how “mainstream” environmental and food activist groups reach out to (and /or work in solidarity with) equity-seeking communities.

The overall project consists of a series of separate but complementary case studies. These case studies each highlight a particular issue, focusing on how differences in class, race, and indigeneity affect inclusion (and exclusion) in spaces and organizations, and how these processes operate at different local, regional, and national scales.

A multi-sited, team ethnographic approach is used; multiple venues are accessed for shorter periods than in traditional ethnographic research in order to gather data across multiple sites and scales. The researcher in charge of each case study will embed her/himself in our partner communities and organizations, conducting participant observation as well as in-depth interviews and document analysis. Analysis will focus on identifying how individuals, communities, and organizations work within (and across) different perspectives on what constitutes sustainable and equitable food systems, and how their work is structured by the overlapping systems of oppression that shape our society. Through this analysis, we hope to identify positive strategies for working across difference, and also to highlight additional opportunities for collaboration and inclusion. Research findings will be shared with project partners in a variety of ways throughout the process, to ensure that the study meets the needs of our partners and the wider community.