Alternative Problems, Alternative Solutions: Food Security and Indigenous Sovereignty in the Global Food System


Room 608, Level 6 Melbourne Law School 185 Pelham Street Carlton


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This seminar examined two distinct, but related, food policy concepts – food security and food sovereignty – as solutions to a particular set of problems in the global food system. In examining these concepts and their use in Australian food policy discourse, the seminar draws attention to tensions with Indigenous sovereignty politics.

Food security is commonly used in national and intergovernmental policies that focus on consumer access to food and freedom from hunger, but also support trade liberalisation. In contrast, food sovereignty focuses on the peoples’ control over the food system and has developed out of peasant movements in the global South, where it is used to establish the right of people to land and to determine their own food systems. Food sovereignty is an emerging discourse in the Australian alternative food space. It seeks to adopt the radical politics of the global food sovereignty movement to address injustices associated with Australian agriculture. While it can be beneficial to borrow and modify political ideas from other contexts, this seminar points to the fact that food sovereignty discourse in Australia gives inadequate attention to existing debates over sovereignty and indigeneity in the settler-colonial context. In putting forward a progressive vision of an ethical alternative food system that does not address Indigenous dispossession via agriculture, food sovereignty arguments have the potential to depoliticise and mask historical injustices associated with colonialism.

Co-hosted by: Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute; Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law, Melbourne Law School; and Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences.

This seminar is part of the Sustainable Food System Seminar Series hosted by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) as part of the Sustainable Food Systems Project.