Theorizing Scholar-Activism and the Global Food Sovereignty Movement

The unprecedented state of global hunger is exposing the fragility of food systems, which are the political economic processes and infrastructure involved in feeding people from rural farms to urban markets and kitchens. This fragility is caused by political economic systems that privilege the commodification of food over fundamental biophysical necessities and human rights. Major ongoing efforts to respond to global hunger advocate for food sovereignty, which is the right of people to define their own food systems instead of corporations, so that healthy, sustainable, delicious and culturally appropriate food is more accessible. Food studies or the study of food and society is crossing disciplinary and epistemological boundaries between scholarship, knowledge mobilization and activism. Destabilizing these boundaries work towards the decolonization of knowledge, policy and practice. Theorizing from practice is integral to the field, particularly food sovereignty, which began as a peasant farmers' advocacy movement in the Global South. Learning from and supporting food sovereignty movements has the power to transform Eurocentric notions of who holds expertise and how change can happen. Our multidisciplinary team of food studies scholars, environmental geographers, historians, political scientists, anthropologists, sociologists, and public health specialists are theorizing the food sovereignty movement building with practitioners globally, such as the Ghana Food Movement, Cocina Poderosa (Peru), Thanal Trust (India) and Feed Scarborough. This theorization is useful for explaining how diverse organized social resistance is responding to the unprecedented global hunger crisis and supporting them in their efforts. The main objectives of this Working Group are to support food sovereignty organizations by developing public-facing knowledge outputs that promote their local strategies globally; to evolve north-south research partnerships by connecting universities and practitioners from Canada, Peru, Ghana and India; and to contribute to the digital food archive at UTSC via cases of scholar-activism in academic publications.


  • Jayeeta Sharma, UTSC Historical & Cultural Studies
  • Siera Vercillo, Postdoctoral researcher, UTSC Physical & Environmental Studies


Faculty, University of Toronto

  • Daniel Bender, UTSC Historical & Cultural Studies / Director, Culinaria Research Centre
  • Michael Classens, School of the Environment
  • Sarah Elton, Della Lana School of Public Health
  • Jeffrey Pilcher, UTSC Historical & Cultural Studies

Faculty, outside University of Toronto

  • Jasper Ayelazuno, Political Science, University of Development Studies, Ghana
  • Cameron McCordic, School of the Environment, U. Waterloo

Postdoctoral Researchers, University of Toronto

  • Noah Allison, UTSC Culinaria Research Centre
  • Nino Bariola, UTSC Culinaria Research Centre
  • Jackie Rohel, UTSC Culinaria Research Centre
  • Abdul Salam-Ibrahim, Geography & Planning
  • Janita Van Dyk, Anthropology

Graduate Students outside University of Toronto

  • Geetha Sukumaran, Humanities, York U.
  • Naomi Sunu, Developmental & Environmental Studies, U. Waterloo

Community and External Members

  • Edwin Baffour, Food Sovereignty Ghana
  • Dr. Balu Balasubramanian, Founder, Ctr. for Indian Knowledge Systems
  • Karissa Becerra, Cocina Poderosa, Peru
  • Bismark Nortey, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana
  • Dr. Sharadini Rath, Thanal Trust, India
  • Suman Roy, Feed Scarborough
  • Aimee Wallin, Ghana Food Movement