CFP: New Farmer Subjectivities and the Meaning of 'Good' Farming -- due 9/30/16

  • 13 Sep 2016 4:07 PM
    Message # 4248129
    Rebecca Shenton (Administrator)


    New Farmer Subjectivities and the Meaning of ‘Good’ Farming

    2017 American Association of Geographers, Boston, MA, April 5-9, 2017, Paper Sessions

    Organizers: Julia Laforge, University of Manitoba, and Charles Z. Levkoe, Lakehead University,

    Since the 1950s, narratives of the ‘good’ farmer have become increasingly embedded within a productivist paradigm that point to success through higher yields and competitive advantage, while relying on chemical inputs, mechanization, and biotechnology (Burton 2004, McGuire et al. 2013). Yet the majority of farmers across the globe continue to struggle through economic, ecological, and social challenges in order to maintain their livelihoods. While subject to the realities of the corporate food regime, they are also challenging dominant agricultural discourses and practices.

    A new generation of farmers is emerging and working closely with established growers to challenge farmer subjectivities and present a different vision of ‘good’ farming. In the global north, many new farmers are coming from non-agricultural, urban, and occasionally immigrant backgrounds bringing with them lived experiences and unconventional ideas of what it means to farm and be a farmer (Ngo & Brklacich 2014, Mailfert 2007). Many of these new farmers are also engaging in issues of social justice, working within ecological systems, and experimenting with viable economic alternatives (Niewolny & Lillard 2010). Engaging traditional and scientific knowledge, they embrace agroecological approaches that include a wide range of philosophical, scientific, and practical applications of ecological principles. Beyond running farm businesses, new farmers are also connecting to the global food sovereignty movement and contributing to community economies and more sustainable futures (Gibson-Graham 2006; Harris 2009).  Furthermore, women are leading many of these initiatives and are playing a central role in movement organizing, research and policy (Desmarais 2003; Sachs et al. 2016).

    In this session we will explore new farmer subjectivities and the meaning of ‘good’ farming as part of the food sovereignty movement. We invite participants to submit abstracts that discuss the following themes and questions:

    • Land Access and Capital: How can new farmers access land and capital as costs are increasing due to changes in commodity markets and speculative pricing? What effects do the commodification and financialization of land have on new farmers?  
    • Gender, Race and Farming: In the global north, farming is typically understood to be a white, male-centric activity. As more women and people of colour are being recognized for their leadership in farming, what does this mean for the agricultural sector and for related policy and programming? What are the barriers facing women, racialized peoples, and new immigrants who wish to farm?
    • New Farmer Training and Labour: What kinds of supports do we need to train new farmers? Are farm internships exploiting young people or do they offer valuable education and training? What does having non-waged labour on farms mean for the future of food movements?
    • New farmers and Agroecology: What motivates new farmers to use agroecological production practices? What impact will this have on the future of food systems? What does this mean for how research is done in the agricultural sector?
    • New Farmers as Urban/Peri-Urban: What does the rise in urban/peri-Urban agriculture mean for building agrarian communities and accessing resources? Traditionally immigrants settle in cities, but what are the opportunities for them to take up professions in farming?

    Following a series of paper presentations, discussants from academic and farming sectors will provide commentary on the major themes addressed.

    To participate in this session, please send an abstract (250 words maximum) including title, 5 key words, author(s), institutional affiliation and contact details (including email) to and by September 30, 2016

    All accepted participants will be required to: 1) register and submit your abstract to the AAG following the AAG guidelines (; 2) send your PIN number to by October 27, 2016; and, 3) send a draft paper to the organizers by March 1, 2017.


    Burton, Rob J. F. (2004). Seeing through the “good farmer’s” eyes: Towards developing an understanding of the social symbolic value of “productivist” behaviour. Sociologia Ruralis, 44(2), 195–215.

    Desmarais, A. A. (2003). The Via Campesina: Peasant women on the frontiers of food sovereignty. Canadian Woman Studies, 23(1), 140.

    Harris, E. (2009). Neoliberal subjectivities or a politics of the possible? Reading for difference in alternative food networks. Area, 41(1), 55–63.

    Gibson-Graham, J.K. 2006. A Postcapitalist Politics. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

    Ngo, M., & Brklacich, M. (2014). New farmers’ efforts to create a sense of place in rural communities: insights from southern Ontario, Canada. Agriculture and Human Values, 31, 53–67. doi:10.1007/s10460-013-9447-5

    Niewolny, K. L., & Lillard, P. T. (2010). Expanding the boundaries of beginning farmer training and program development : A review of contemporary initiatives to cultivate a new generation of American farmers. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.

    Mailfert, K. (2007). New Farmers and Networks: How Beginning Farmers Build Social Connections in France. Tijdschrift Voor Economische En Sociale Geografie, 98(1), 21–31. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9663.2007.00373.x

    McGuire, Jean, Lois Morton, and Alicia D. Cast. 2013. Reconstructing the good farmer identity: shifts in farmer identities and farm management practices to improve water quality. Agriculture and Human Values, 30(1), 57-69.

    Sachs, C., Barbercheck, M., Braiser, K., Kiernan, N. E., & Terman, A. R. (2016). The Rise of Women Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture. University of Iowa Press.

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