Call for PGR Papers: Pre-Conference Symposium of the Food Geographies Working Group (FGWG)

The FGWG is a newly established research collective within the RGS-IBG. Our primary aim is to be an interdisciplinary network for all interested in the broad area of ‘food geographies’. PGRs are critical to this, and so the opportunity for PhD and Masters students to showcase their work and influence the future direction of the FGWG is central to our 2016 pre-conference symposium.

This one-day symposium will focus on new concepts, methodologies and areas in food geographies research in order to develop collaborations and stimulate innovative research within and beyond this newly established group. Given the ongoing global crises around both food production and consumption, it remains critical and timely to cut across the existing RGS-IBG research groups and bring together all those interested in these issues to explore new ways to think about, and engage with, such challenges.

The draft schedule for the day is:

09:30     Welcome and introduction (Dr Mags Adams, University of Salford)

09.45     Keynote panel on ‘New Directions in Food Geographies?’ (speakers tbc)

11.00     Coffee

11.30     Postgraduate PechaKucha presentations

13.00     Lunch

14.00     Workshop on ‘New Opportunities for Food Geographies’

16.00     Rapporteur(s)


We welcome PGR presentations adopting a ‘PechaKucha’ format (PechaKucha is of Japanese origin and involves giving 20 quick-fire slides of 20 secs each, totalling 6 min 40 sec each. Your slides should be timed to advance automatically every 20 seconds). This will enable greater participation during the symposium as well as ensuring a more informal/friendly environment for presenting students. The focus of the PechaKuchas should be on your work in the area of food geographies, from the methods used to any results thus far. Through using such a format, we hope to understand the array of early career research emerging in preparation for a co-produced statement paper to be published in The Geographical Journal. Furthermore, PGRs will play a direct role in the symposium through helping to shape the very future of the FGWG.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted to Dr Mike Hardman via by 1st July 2016.


CFP RGS-IBG AC2016: Provocations and Possibilities of ‘Nexus Thinking’: Postgraduate Snapshots

This year we are organising a session at the RGS-IBG annual conference in London which will take place on the 31st August – 2nd September 2016. The session is sponsored by the Social and cultural geographies research group and the Postgraduate Forum. Please see the call for papers below:

Provocations and Possibilities of ‘Nexus Thinking’: Postgraduate Snapshots

The aim of this session is to explore the different ways in which postgraduate researchers in Social and Cultural Geography are engaging with and attending to the manifold provocations posed by the concept of Nexus Thinking.  ‘Nexus thinking’ is taken here to refer to the varying ways in which human geographers are working to consider the entanglements and interconnectivities between environmental and social domains.

We are encouraging postgraduates to present a brief ‘snapshot’ of their work (whether a photograph, a quotation, a field diary entry, an image of an object, or mini-video clip) as a focus for 5-10 minute contributions that explore the ways in which their theoretical and/or methodological interventions expand or restrict the propensity for and the possibilities of nexus thought.

It is envisaged that the snapshot will be the main artefact around which each contribution is orientated. We encourage participants to fully utilise their snapshots in ways which further deepen and enrich the developing trajectories, tensions, and textures associated with the mobilisation of the Nexus Thinking.

Please email prospective contributions or any queries to Katie Ledingham ( and Phil Emmerson ( The deadline for submission is Tuesday 16th February 2016.  Please include:

  • A title for your presentation
  • An abstract of max 150 words
  • A description of the ‘Snapshot’ that will be used
  • Your name, affiliation and contact details (email address)

7 things we wish we had known in first year…

It’s the time of year when PhD offices around the country will be seeing an influx of new PhD students. We would like to offer a huge welcome to the SCGRG PGR blog to our new Social and Cultural geography colleagues! We have also been reflecting on our experiences of the first year of our PhDs and we know it can be a confusing, frustrating and exciting time. As such we have put together a top 5 things that we wish we had known going into first year. Please feel free to add to this list and to refer to the PG Tips section of the website for more hints and tips!

1.      You don’t have to know what your PhD is about right away

It may seem obvious in hindsight but a major thing that many PhD students worry about in their first years is that they don’t know what their PhD is exactly about. This often isn’t helped by every friend and family member – pretty much anyone you tell that you are doing a PhD – will ask is “What’s your PhD about?” To counter this question is probably worth having a stock answer that you can tell people in answer to this question while in the background you can get on with working out what it actually might be about. There is no rush however, often you can continue on into the writing up stages before you work it out and this is more than ok!

2.      That there are 10000000000 ways to do a PhD

The next thing to say is that there is that there is no set way to do a PhD. This is true for every aspect from methods, writing style, where people work, how they work, the amount of time they take to do things or the order that they do them in. While there are a number of commonly used ‘formulas’ these are no better than any other way. First year is a great time to experiment and find the way to do it that suits you best!

3.      That you are not stupider than your peers

The second thing that people worry about is that they are not as clever or capable as their peers. It’s fair to say that ‘imposter syndrome’ is definitely a thing. The key thing to remember though is that no matter how calm or confident your peers may appear, they will also feel this way from time to time. If they tell you that they never do, then they are probably lying.

4.      To learn from other people around you

The people around you are a fantastic resource to learn from. Chances are that in your department there will be a wealth of experience in doing PhD, both from the people who have completed them already to the people who are only a year ahead of you. Talk to them all and get ideas, hints, words of advice and encouragement. As with most things, a PhD is a lot easier if you can learn from the mistakes and positives of other people.

5.      That reading widely is the best thing that you can be doing

There is an old adage that your PhD is the best time for reading. It’s something that can get a little tiresome to hear from your supervisors who will often tell you how jealous they are of you getting to read all the time when often all you want to do is write. Forgo this frustration if you can. Supervisors aren’t always right but in this case reading is a huge chance to explore a wider set of geographies to the ones that you are used to and to bring these through into your PhD as you go through.

6.      To use a reference manager

A more practical piece of advice now. Use a reference manager from the start! There are loads of options out there and many of them are free so have a look around and find one that works for you. It will make life infinitely easier when you come back to write the thesis and you can’t remember where you read that killer piece of information!

7.      That the RGS-IBG is a great resource

The final piece of advice is to use the RGS-IBG! They offer loads of information, advice and guidance, events and networks for Postgraduates. Obviously you have found us here at the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group but there are a tonne of other research groups. Join them and take part, each one has a Postgraduate Representative which is elected at the annual conference and many of them run sessions just for postgrads at that conference also. There is also the postgraduate forum who offer a conference in March just for postgrads. A great change to meet people and share your ideas in a friendly and fun environment.

Good To Eat? Knowing Food in Practice

Reflections on the Food Matters Symposium:  Systemic Food Waste, West Town Farm 1/09/15
By Louise MacAllister, University of Exeter

Arriving at West Town Farm for a symposium addressing issues of food waste, I walked into the venue in wellies, and took up a seat on a straw bale in the barn. The farm environment felt familiar to me, but catching snippets of other people’s conversations, the location for the symposium was badgeralready provoking lines of thought that would not be possible inside a more ‘standard’ venue.

The day began with some provocations from Professor Henry Buller, whose opening comments immediately highlighted the complexity of questions of food waste. Waste was framed in a variety of ways, including but not limited to; waste as a natural result of working with a biotic medium, waste as the result of unlimited consumption, waste as systemically inherent, waste that is actively produced, and metabolic waste. Waste that exists on scales from the household, to the 35 million male chicks that are seen as a waste product of the egg industry, and are therefore killed at one day old. However with these chicks mostly feeding the pet food industry, waste can again be differentially framed; waste as a commercial opportunity.

With these ‘provocations’ bouncing around in conversation we set off in groups for a farm walk. As we walked these provocations were made to feel real, complicated and entangled with everyday farming and the vital materialities of the farm. Andy Bragg who farms at West Town Farm led the walk. We stopped by a small herd of cattle which Andy spent quite some time talking about. The cattle watched us while we talked about their lives, their feed patterns, their everyday care, their breeding, their death, and the processing of their bodies. We talked about these things with the aim of reducing food waste, while simultaneowest town cowsusly being enchanted by the cute calves, the curious heifer at the fence, and the face-pulling of the bull.

Returning to the barn these real life complexities were extended to further contexts in the panel ‘knowing food in practice’. We heard more from Andy Bragg about the pressures of farming, and how food scares and food waste are governed by the madness of food export rules. We then heard from Kim Chenoweth of the Devon and Cornwall Food Association. Kim works as a volunteer helping feed those who may well otherwise go without, and explained the reliance of the charity on ‘waste’ food such as undersized vegetables, and the questions this raises about socially-just eating. Finally, we heard from Martyn Bragg who runs a farm to consumer veg box scheme and how food costs accumulate through wasteful practices such as unnecessary packaging, here our wasteful practices can be understood as generative of costs that structure access to food.

Following the panel it was time to practically engage with waste food to make our lunch! Splitting off into three groups to work with offal, ‘misshapen’ vegetables and past-best before bakery ingredients, I joined the latter group. The main question of this session being ‘how would we know food is good to eat if we take away the best before date?’ I think this session is worthy of a bit more attention that I will give to the other parts of the day because this was where we engaged with food itself and so came to approach the topic in ways that cannot be reached through traditional methods. The food we were working with was laid out on a table, the session leader, Ken, explained it had been left over when he closed his bakery in 2012.

From the simple question of how would we know this food would be good to eat came a whole range of possible approaches to this question. Just what is ‘good to eat’ in the first place? Does it mean it has the same nutritional quality as when it was first produced? How does flour degrade? What bacteria are at work, incorporating themselves into our food, into our bodies, and into debates about food waste? Does such degradation even render it unsafe anyway? Touching the ingredients prompted further thought; what are we feeling for? What does good food feel like? Can you smell bad food? What can we do with food before it reaches our mouth to ensure it is safe to take into our bodies in the absence of a black and white date, past which the food is widely understood to have ‘become bad’ and ‘waste’.

This is not just about the food itself though, thinking about food waste through a visceral engagement with food prompts questions of social justice and access. Who has to make these decisions about food waste and safety and who is afforded what may be considered the luxury of not having to worry about food safety, with food beyond the best before date being ‘safely’ consigned to the dustbin and firmly placed in the category of waste? Can society be divided today between those who eat first and those who eat what is left in a modern day version of ‘the upper crust’?

Besides such classed questions are questions of care. Are we taking care for our own bodies when we take in food that is past a particular date? Are we taking care of the environment if we do NOT take in food that is past a particular date? What about when we care for others? I was not the only parent in the group who would eat food past a ‘best before’ date myself, but who would be far more cautious about feeding it to my children. Here food waste becomes entangled with my gendered responsibilities to care. But who receives my care and who does not when I make these decisions about food waste? And is the decision to eat and feed my children food past its ‘best before date’ a particular privilege that I am afforded, that others do not have?

We had no such decisions to make today, lunch was based on food that would otherwise have gone to waste, and if anyone was under the impression that ‘waste’ food somehow automatically tastes bad, this was dispelled by the lunch, the scones below being part of the pudding!scones

Lunch was of course also an opportunity to talk to fellow delegates. Sitting in our conference barn venue, back on our straw bale seats, I spoke with several people about the venue itself. The farm walk may have seemed like some kind of fun interlude, but as one delegate explained, ‘it makes it much easier to think about food waste, it makes it seem more real’. The place of the conference itself, and the materialities we were engaging with during the day, were combining to forge new ways of framing and engaging with the topic, a way forward to solutions?

After lunch we returned to an academic focus with a panel session. Dr. Megan Blake talked about food waste in relation to neo-liberalism, Dr. Matt Reed about social structures and organic farming, and Dr. Emma Roe about the food animal carcass as a vital materiality whose ethics of distribution can be framed in terms of social and cultural practices.

The day ended with ways forward. Splitting into three groups and then returning for a roundtable discussion, the group I joined began from the starting point of ‘what might a less wasteful food production utopia look like?’ This could not be easily defined, from ‘eating your landscape’, to food justice, fish based diets, in-vitro meat, and finally the close celebration of the life of an animal we may consume through the example of the parties held for the slaughter of pigs in Spain, we found utoleavespia could not be grasped. Food, taste and consumption is at once personal and communal, and so it was that utopia was different for each of us. As the day had demonstrated, this is a complex issue that can be approached in a variety of ways. However the day had served as an excelled point from which to think about these complexities and forge connections and ideas for possible solutions. These possible solutions, thoughts and questions were captured at the end of the day not in the more standard ‘post-it note’ format, but in keeping with the day, on paper leaves, our ‘ink’ being charcoal produced on the farm.

What was perhaps most clear from today was that food waste is not something that can be addressed in a singular straightforward way. Approaching food waste and arriving at meaningful solutions demands that we take into account debates from household practices, to their social and cultural frames, to economic and political structuring. Accounting for such complexity is not a straightforward task and ways to prompt new lines of thought are vital for this. A farm-based symposium with visceral, academic, and industry engagements was a perfect approach from which to further this ongoing process from a venue that engaged and immersed us in the vitality of the world we talk about.

Details: RGS-IBG AC2015 Postgraduate Snapshots Session – Provocations and Possibilities ‘in’ and ‘of’ the Anthropocene

Friday 4th September 2015 14:40 – 16:20.
Peter Chalk – Room 1.6, University of Exeter.
(Session Number 269 in Conference Programme).

Conveners:  SCGRG Postgraduate Reps 2014-2015.
(Katie Ledingham, University of Exeter; Suzanne Hocknell, University of Exeter; Emma Spence, Cardiff University).

Sponsors: Social and Cultural Geography Research Group & Postgraduate Forum

This session will explore the different ways in which postgraduate researchers in Social and Cultural Geography are both engaging with and attending to the manifold provocations posed by the concept of the Anthropocene. Postgraduates will present a brief ‘snapshot’ of their work (whether a photograph, a quotation, a field diary entry, an image of an object, or mini-video clip) as a focus for contributions that explore the ways in which their theoretical and/or methodological interventions are acting to work with and against the rise of the Anthropocene. We encourage participants to fully utilise their snapshots in ways which further deepen and enrich the developing trajectories, tensions, and textures associated with the mobilisation of this concept.

Chairs: Suzanne Hocknell (University of Exeter) & Emma Spence (Cardiff University)

Presenters:  Luc Tripet (Universite de Neuchatel); Yannick Rousselot (Universitie de Geneve); Amita Bhakta (Loughborough University); Anna Pigott (Swansea University); Leigh Martindale (Lancaster University); Natalia Stutter (Cardiff University); Jacob Barber (University of Edinburgh).

Discussant:  Emma Spence (Cardiff University)

Consistency vs Constancy: a Manifesto against Striating Ontologies in the Anthropocene
Luc Tripet (Universite de Neuchatel, Switzerland)
Yannick Rousselot (Universite de Geneve, Switzerland)
Striating ontologies overcode any socio-ecological becoming, reducing it to reified and alienating structures, hence producing a regulated, striated space. We argue that it is notably through these ontologies that the rhizomatic entanglements of human and nonhuman is deterritorialized and reterritorialized into a dual stratification: Nature as resources, society as a value-producing structure. This relative movement is based upon a totalizing principle – an absolute -, the capitalism in its process of capture of the earth. Therefore, striating ontologies raise an essential issue. One does not explain anything with constant ontologies but has to acknowledge the immanence and contingency of existence in order to grasp more than reifying abstractions. For the real is never constant, one has to encounter the becomings that give consistency to our world. In the case of the Anthropocene, a pretence of constancy such as the productivist and anthropocentrist stratification annihilates the becoming-entanglements of the human and the nonhuman. More precisely, this performed blindness to our rhizomatic relation to the earth sustains the strange ideal of constant progress and perpetual growth in a finite world, from which the environmental crisis proceeds. We conclude arguing that ontologies have to embrace consistency; be(com)ing nomad ontologies, to dispense with constancy.

Accommodating disability in sustainable living: embodied tensions of access in eco-communities
Amita Bhakta (Loughborough University, UK)
In an era in which adaptation and mitigation to anthropogenic climate change has become of increasing importance, grassroots eco-communities continue to emerge as a response to combating an array of environmental challenges we face. However, with a continually ageing population, meeting our changing and embodied needs mediated through dis/ability remains to be an issue which merits further attention, particularly in the context of sustainable living. Drawing on a snapshot of field reflections of embodied experiences from the perspective of Cerebral Palsy, this paper discusses the tensions between accessibility for dis/abled people and the practices tied into sustainable living within an eco-community context. Attempts to reduce environmental impact have, in practice, provoked both physical and social exclusion for dis/abled people. Greater attention to understanding bodily difference and the body itself in finding solutions to environmental challenges is needed, through going beyond policy and towards an increased dialogue with the less able.

Imagining Anthropocene futures: glimpses from Wales
Anna Pigott (Swansea University, UK)
This research explores how the future is being imagined, envisioned and hoped for in Wales in the context of the ‘Anthropocene’. Increasingly, imaginations of the future are seen as influential to social change because they are a vital part of how possible futures are pre-experienced and set in motion (Yusoff and Gabrys, 2011), and yet it is also suggested (e.g. Harvey, 2000) that contemporary societies have experienced a decline in the hope and utopianism that once motivated social change. Wales provides an important context for this research as its Government is pioneering a cutting-edge approach to sustainability and the well-being of future generations (One Wales: One Planet, 2009). The research draws on ethnographic engagements with a range of case studies that shed light on diverse imaginaries of the future, and explores their significance in relation to both national and global narratives about the Anthropocene.

Understanding humans in the Anthropocene: Finding answers in Geoengineering and Transition Towns
Leigh Martindale (Lancaster University, UK)
Despite ‘knowing’ about and understanding that human society is the major reason for global environmental change, the evidence to date suggests we haven’t acted in accordance to this knowledge. Indeed, ‘business-as-usual’ is arguably the predominant reaction to issues of climate change and the idea of the Anthropocene. This presentation will therefore suggest how environmental discourse can be transformed – in order to become emancipatory – during the era of the Anthropocene. Using the idea of material or ‘geological politics’ (Clark, 2013; 2014) in the context of local geoengineering strategies and Transition Towns, I hope to show that the question is not ‘what is to be done’ but rather: ‘what is being done and how can we help move this forward’ (Gibson-Graham, 2009).

An Unusual Sight in Hanoi
Natalia Stutter (Cardiff University, UK)
A group of itinerant bicycle vendors in Hanoi gather at the side of the street – resting, chatting and laughing with one another. They stand at ease with their bikes parked; they are comfortable and pay little attention to passers-by. The conical hats symbolise that these women are from the countryside. Economic reformation in Vietnam and rapid urbanisation – key contributors to the development of the Anthropocene – have had adverse effects on the amount of land available for traditional agricultural practices. As a result rural families, whose members often have little formal education or skills, are forced to find alternative forms of income. Selling food in the city is one of the few options available, however the presence of mobile vendors in Hanoi is fraught with challenges. As the city continues to develop and modernise the vendors are becoming increasingly marginalised as we move further into the Anthropocene.

Psychohistory and “the Anthropocene”
Jacob Barber (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
I want to suggest that at one end of a spectrum ‘the Anthropocene’ narrative is one of hyper modernization by numbers. A project that imagines the entirety of human behaviour in the singular Anthropos, and, like the fictional psychohistory of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation universe, casts an impersonal eye into the future to make decisions about and for all of us. This is a world of hazily imagined planetary sovereignty that I fear only exacerbates the problems that prompted Crutzen and Stoermer to coin the term Anthropocene’ in the first place. At the other end of this spectrum, however, the Anthropocene appears as doing too much, trying to explain too many things under an umbrella-term that disguises a vast heterogeneity below. If this is the case, if ‘the Anthropocene’ really is doing too much and trying to explain everything, then I question the applicability of that term to anything.

‘How Critical is Research Impact?’ Graduate Conference for New and Emerging Human Geographers

Thursday December 10th & Friday December 11th, 2015 

School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, East Quadrangle, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ


In a very short space of time, impact has become an inescapable feature of research culture in UK higher education. Impact attainment is now a benchmark that all universities are expected to meet, and so is part-and-parcel of institutional strategizing at all levels, from senior management committees, to school or department working groups. Identifying a pathway to impact is a required element in any grant application submitted to UK research councils, and features as a standard element in PhD research project design and delivery. The status that impact will hold in the REF2020 exercise is already an academic preoccupation.

 So, like it or not (and many in the profession remain equivocal at best), the impact agenda seems here to stay!

 This two-day PGR conference, hosted by the Human Geography Research Group and School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, offers a dedicated forum for consideration of questions that are crucial to an emerging, aspiring generation of graduate researchers:

– What does the production of impactful research mean for a current generation of UK graduate students in human geography?

– How is impact to be variously understood, appreciated, approached and subject to critique?

– How does the prefiguring of impact affect PhD research design and project direction?

– What place exists for disciplinary traditions of critical and creative praxis in an evolving impact agenda?

– Is intellectual integrity a victim of “impact-instrumentalism”, or, is impact the trigger necessary to ensure that research makes a real difference beyond the academy?

– Can the future shape of impact actually be defined by new and emerging researchers, rather than simply becoming another expectation that they must meet?

– Are adaptive strategies or radical responses necessary to prise open (even to ‘Occupy’) impact?

The conference programme will comprise a series of case study-led commentaries based on recent/ongoing “impact experiences”. Commentaries will be intercut with dedicated workshops sessions for small-group conversation and experience sharing, and a panel session leading into an open debate.

Commentators and panelists include: Kye Askins, Deborah Dixon, Caleb Johnston, Hayden Lorimer, Hester Parr, Chris Philo and Jo Sharp.

Conference contributors will have differing levels of research experience (academic staff; ESRC ‘Future Research Leader’; recently completed and current PhD), and in projects involving international and national collaborations, and interdisciplinary links with the biological sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. Presentations will combine critical reflection with practical guidance, exploring the tensions that exist between impact ideals and impact realities.

Student-led breakout workshops will offer advice and seek opinion on partnership building, evidence gathering, narrating and communicating impact, the use of impact to advance careers (in academia and beyond), and existing mechanisms/media available to offer individual opinions and collective responses to the emerging impact agenda.

Conference Registration:

The conference is free to attend for any student registered for PhD studies in Human Geography at a UK university. The event will begin at 1:30pm on Thursday 10th December and end on Friday 11th December 2015 at 1pm.

Pre-registration is required. Please note: conference capacity is capped at 80 students. Delegates can register direct at our EventBrite site at:

Any conference queries should be addressed to: Jean.McPartland [at]


Bate, J. (ed.) (2011) The public value of the humanities (Bloomsbury, London). 

Driver, F. (2014) ‘Historical geography at large: towards public historical geographies’, Journal of Historical Geography, 46 (3), 92.   

Pain, R., Kesby, M., & Askins, K. (2011). Geographies of impact: power, participation and potential. Area, 43(2), 183-188.

Phillips, R. (2010). The impact agenda and geographies of curiosity. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35(4), 447-452. 

Rogers, A., Bear, C., Hunt, M., Mills, S., & Sandover, R. (2014). Intervention: the impact agenda and human geography in UK higher education.  ACME.

Slater, T. (2012). Impacted geographers: a response to Pain, Kesby and Askins. Area, 44(1), 117-119.

Food Matters Symposium: A RGS-IBG AC2015 Pre-Conference Event

If you are booked as a participant in this event but have not yet confirmed any transport needs to / from West Town Farm but would like to be included please get in touch with both Suzanne & Rebecca A.S.A.P.  Please also get in touch if you would like your profile and contact details to be included in the programme but have not yet forwarded details.

Remember West Town is a working farm please wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Confirmed Pick-Ups:
St David’s Station:  Jeremy Brice, Ana Moragues Faus, Matt Reed, Agatha Herman, Alice Willatt, Laura Colebroke, Emma Roe, Lou Dudley, Henry Buller, Kim Ward.

Streatham Campus:  Rebecca Jones, Mags Adams, Alexandra Sexton, Eifiona Thomas Lane, Megan Blake, Andrew Williams, Charlotte Spring.

Tuesday 1st September – West Town Farm, Exeter.

Although food waste is beginning to appear on academic and political agendas there has been a tendency to frame the problem around individual food practices, and much less work has been done on how food becomes framed as waste at other nodes within food systems. Through employing a mixture of panel sessions, provocations, hands on sessions and group work, this symposium will bring together academics, food producers, food retailers and food activists in order to approach the problem of systemic food waste. We hope this symposium will enable a collaborative process of agenda setting for future research into food waste, food knowledges and food practices.

Conveners: Suzanne Hocknell & Dr Rebecca Sandover.

Opening Remarks & Provocations:  Prof. Henry Buller (University of Exeter).

Dr. Megan Blake (University of Sheffield); Dr. Emma Roe (University of Southampton); Dr. Matt Reed (The Countryside and Community Research Institute); Andy Bragg (West Town Farm); Martyn Bragg (Shillingford Organics); and Kim Chenoweth (Devon and Cornwall Food Association).

Group Facilitators:
Dr Emma-Jayne Abbots (UWTSD); Dr Mags Adams (University of Salford); and Dr Agatha Herman (University of Reading).

Closing Remarks:  Prof. Elspeth Probyn (University of Sydney).

Food matters are increasingly contested as lively materials that shape issues around human health and wellbeing as well as impacting on ecosystems through their production, consumption and disposal. Food materials decay rendering food inedible. Food material can be seen as unknown, unfamiliar and undesirable for consumption. Food matters can contain anxieties over provenance, authenticity and wider material impacts on our ecosystems and our bodies. However solutions to knowing food, addressing food waste and increasing access to fresh food are contested. Examples of this include the use of waste food to address issues of food poverty, processing technologies precluding edible food from reaching the consumer, or food labelling inhibiting edible food from being consumed. Through this participatory event we seek to explore these issues by not only generating debate for academic research, but by also getting our hands on food matters, and engaging with local producers’ food stories and food knowledges. By incorporating practical hands- on sessions to produce our lunch with ‘waste’ food and hearing on-the-ground experiences of producers and activists, we seek to ground academic debate on production- consumption-waste pathways with the matter of food itself, and to co-create knowledges for ongoing research collaboration.

Dinner will be hosted by Bristol Skipchen on West Town Farm from 5.30pm.  Transport will be available from the farm to the RGS opening plenary, St David’s Station, or to the Rusty Bike pub.

More Info and Event Booking Here(Limited places available).

Organised  in collaboration with:
Love Local Food, West Town Farm, OrganicARTS, Ashclyst Farm & Dairy, Shillingford OrganicsWith support from the Nature, Materialities & Biopolitics (NaMBio) research group of the Department of Geography in the University of Exeter, the Social & Cultural Geography Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (SCGRG RGS-IBG), the South-West Doctoral Centre of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC SWDTC), and the Catalyst Project at the University of Exeter. 

N.B. this symposium is supported by the ESRC SWDTC, and we have 3 funded places for student note-takers.  The note-takers will work with group facilitators in order to produce a detailed record of the day’s discussions that can feed in to future research design.  In addition, their delegate fee will be waived and we can offer £50 each in expenses.  If you are a PhD Researcher interested in being actively involved in the symposium in this way, then please contact Suzanne Hocknell <sh422 [at]> and Dr Rebecca Sandover <R.J.Sandover [at]> for more information.  

(Although it can be booked independently, this symposium is also a pre-event of the RGS-IBG annual conference.  Information about the RGS-IBG annual conference can be found here.  Linked sessions within the conference include: ‘Surfaces of Distinction:  Materiality & viscerally knowing food’ one, two & three;  ‘Thinking through Food Justice & Sovereignty’; ‘Geographical Perspectives on Food in the Anthropocene’ one, two & three; & ‘Exploring the Role of Transformative Research in Struggles for Food Sovereignty‘).


Suzanne Hocknell is a third year ESRC funded PhD Candidate at the University of Exeter supervised by Dr Ian Cook and Professor Steve Hinchliffe.  Her research focuses on knowledges and practices of food.  More specifically her PhD work investigates how margarine is done in industry, and in the home; as well as engaging craft methodologies to create space for exploring other ways of knowing and practicing margarine.

Dr Rebecca Sandover is an Associate Research Fellow working on The Contagion project at The University of Exeter, led by Prof. S Hinchliffe. Her PhD research investigated how material and visceral relationships when growing and cooking food shapes food knowledge and consumption habits. This research was conducted at two allotment sites in South Somerset.