Fifth BSA Food Study Group Conference: Food & Society 2017

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Fifth BSA Food Study Group Conference: Food & Society 2017

June 26, 2017 @ 8:00 am - June 27, 2017 @ 5:00 pm

£120 – £180

**FINAL CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: Less than 1 week left until deadline! **

Confirmed keynotes – see biographies below:

Corinna Hawkes, Professor of Food Policy, Director, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London, UK A people-centred approach to the study of food: a policy perspective.

Anthony Winson, Professor of Sociology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada From Wide Angle to Zoom:  Critical Perspectives with the Food Lens.



— What is food? And how should we study it? —

Spanning the social sciences, humanities and beyond as well as public health and nutrition, food is established as a prominent topic of interest for research. It is also of significant relevance to those outside the academy, including governments, UN agencies, NGOs, community groups and the private sector, particularly in the light of recent political events. Growing numbers of scholars and students with an interest in food and food-related issues have contributed not only to the emergence and expansion of sub-disciplines dedicated to the study of food – e.g. the sociology of food, the anthropology of food, food history, food economics, the geography of food – but also to the effervescence of an inter-disciplinary ‘food studies’. In building this body of work, researchers within and across these disciplines and sub-disciplines also contribute important knowledge to policy-makers and practitioners.

However, ‘food’ may not mean the same thing to all those who study or seek to influence the practices and systems which produce, sustain and consume it. Depending on disciplinary frameworks, epistemologies and domains of practice, ‘food’ connotes different objects of study, requiring different framings and measurement. For some, ‘food’ is a material substance, or a source of nutrients and means of avoiding disease. For others, it is a commodity for economic exchange, or the basis of livelihoods, or the object of policy. For others still, ‘food’ is a language through which to express relationships, whether affinities or differences. These ‘false cognates’ may deceive us into thinking that we are addressing the same ‘thing’ when, in fact, we are not. Yet food remains central not only to global systems and local lives, but is a fascinating and challenging area of study precisely because it connects with so many other urgent issues; tracing these connections entails transgressing boundaries not only across different domains of human experience, but also across disciplines, requiring engagement with a range of theoretical paradigms and methodologies.

The conference thus poses the questions: what do we mean by ‘food’, how do we study it and to what end? Key themes are: How is ‘food’ conceptualised and operationalised within particular disciplinary and methodological frameworks? How is it understood in relation to its entanglement with other materials, meanings and practices? Should we ‘study up’ or ‘study down’? What are the implications of the ways in which food is defined for contributing to knowledge, practice and informing policy?

We seek to enrich our conversations about food and to transcend boundaries, as well as pause to consider what, exactly, we are talking about. Only then can we learn from each other how better to study ‘food’ and better inform policy and practice. To this end, we invite proposals for papers that not only present studies of food-related issues, but that reflect explicitly on how ‘food’ is delineated as an object of study and how particular theoretical frameworks and/or methods of analysis may be used to explore and understand its significance.

The committee intends to organise papers into thematic sessions that include presenters from different disciplines or sectors to facilitate and stimulate reflection and discussion about how and why issues in ‘food’ are conceived, studied and applied. Themes may include but are not limited to:

–          Agriculture, trade and food retail

–          Processing and food technologies – traditional and modern

–          Food justice, labour and livelihoods

–          Food and cultural heritage

–          Consumption and social relations

–          Methods for researching food and what should we study

–          Risks and food safety

–          Interventions and policies

We invite abstracts of up to 300 words for oral papers (lasting 20 minutes with 10 minutes to follow for questions) and for posters. As in previous years a prize will be awarded for the poster which delegates agree best communicates its aims, methods, findings and conclusions. Following the successful trial of a new format at the previous conference, and taking feedback into account, oral presentations may also include Pecha Kucha* style sessions and roundtable presentations. Please indicate your preferred format when you submit.

We also invite abstracts for symposia with a maximum of three connected papers, of relevance to the conference theme, to run in parallel with presented papers. We would be particularly interested to receive proposals which address methodological challenges in studying ‘food’.  All proposals for symposia should be emailed to the BSA Events team with subject ‘BSA Food Study Group Conference – Special Event’.

Special event submission deadline: 12 February 2017 and abstract submission deadline: 19 February 2017.

Submit your abstract at:

Please direct any academic enquiries to the Food Study Group co-convenors:  Rebecca O’Connell:, Hannah Lambie-Mumford: and Andrea Tonner:

For administrative issues please contact the BSA Events Team:

*A 20-slide presentation in which each slide lasts 20 seconds

— Registration Rates —

BSA Member Registration: £120

Food Study Group Member Registration: £140 Non Member Registration: £180 Concessionary Member Registration: £100 Food Study Group Concessionary Member Registration: £120 Concessionary Non Member Registration: £140

If you/your organisation cannot afford to pay the conference fee, please, in addition to your abstract, submit a covering letter to Dr Elizabeth Hull ( explaining your circumstances and what you hope to both gain and contribute. There are a very limited number of subsidised places and letters will be considered by the committee on a case by case basis. Decisions will be communicated the week commencing 25th March. The decision of the committee is final.

Brief biographies of our 2017 keynote speakers:

Professor Corinna Hawkes

Professor Corinna Hawkes is Director of the Centre for Food Policy in the Department of Sociology at City, University of London and Co-Chair of the Global Nutrition Report, an international report tracking progress in malnutrition in all its forms across the globe. Her work is concerned with identifying effective food systems policies to improve diets around the world. She has published widely on the role of globalisation, trade, retailing, marketing, agriculture in diet and diet change and is now focused on making food policy more effective through a people-centred approach. Corinna has worked at the International Food Policy Institute, the World Health Organization, the University of Sao Paulo and the World Cancer Research Fund International, where she established the NOURISHING Policy Framework for healthy diets and obesity. She sits on the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems and the Lancet Obesity Commission.

Professor Anthony Winson

I am currently Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph, Guelph Canada.  I have also taught at Western University and Saint Mary’s University.  I have researched issues related to agriculture, food, agrarian development, politics and the state in the context of Canada, the United States and the Third World and my current focus is on the political economic determinants of diet and nutrition.  I am the author of the following books: Coffee and Democracy in Modern Costa Rica (Macmillan, 1989); The Intimate Commodity: Food and the Development of the Agro-Industrial Complex in Canada (Garamond Press and U. of Toronto Press, 1993); Contingent Work, Disrupted Lives: Labour and Community in the New Rural Economy, (U. of Toronto Press, 2002 with Belinda Leach which has won the John Porter book prize of the Canadian Sociology Association); and more recently The Industrial Diet: The Degradation of Food and the Struggle for Healthy Eating (UBC Press and New York University Press, 2013). I have co-edited (with Mustafa Koc and Jennifer Sumner) Critical Perspectives in Food Studies (Oxford University Press, 2012), the only interdisciplinary textbook in food studies in Canada.  I have published numerous book chapters and refereed articles in Canadian, American, European and Latin American journals and have served for several years on the editorial boards of Agriculture and Human Values and Rural Sociology.


June 26, 2017 @ 8:00 am
June 27, 2017 @ 5:00 pm
£120 – £180
Event Category:

If you are a member of FRC and you wish to share information about food-related events in which you are involved, please write to the content editor of the website at