News & Events

Cosmopolis lunch seminar Ophélie Véron (UCL): Is the Alternative City a Just City? Geographies of Race and Class In Urban Food Movements

31 May 2018 , 12.00-13.30h VUB: Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Building F, Room F 4.66

Recent years have witnessed the development of many grassroots food initiatives in European and North American cities. These alternative practices question our ways of life and challenge conventional food cultivation methods, preparation, distribution and consumption. Embedding more than a desire to eat "healthier" and "greener", they follow a critical perspective on food systems, sustainability and social justice. However, the alternative city is not inherently synonymous with the just city and even the most well-intentioned practices may support broader social and political inequalities. In this talk, I will present my next research project, which seeks to critically examine the role of alternative food movements in perpetuating, reinforcing or challenging systems of oppression in urban space, such as classism and racism. Drawing on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality Theory, I will question whether alternative practices may reflect power asymmetries among urban communities and generate social and/or racial exclusion, thereby taking part in processes of gentrification and socio-spatial segregation, which are indicative of urban neoliberalisation. Conversely, I will also examine how similar initiatives may promote inclusive practices and work towards social justice. By analysing efforts to achieve a more inclusive local food system from the ground up, my aim is to explore how cities may become more environmentally sustainable and socially just.

Speaker: Dr. Ophélie Véron, Université Catholique de Louvain

Dr. Ophélie Véron currently works as a post-doctoral researcher at Université Catholique de Louvain. A former student of the École Normale Normale Supérieure of Paris and the University of Oxford, she completed her PhD in Geography at University College London in 2015. Her work focuses on urban divisions, social movements and alternative practices.