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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Thematics and sessions

Thematic A. The access to natural resources needed for food production, especially land, soils, and water, in the context of climate change. These resources are coveted for urban use as well as for agricultural use, for both food and non-food production. Contributions are therefore expected to address the issue on how land and water use is regulated, through the lens of urban-rural relations, particularly for nourishing agriculture reconnected to the urban market. Contributions will focus on how land, soils, and water, which are non-renewable resources, are coveted by antithetical demands, hence generating conflicts of uses between housing, industry, service activities, transport infrastructures, food raw materials and energy production, and natural lands. Contributions will also address how to assess spatial land uses and implement public policies that can improve resource usage and food security.

  • Sessions
    • A1 Land for food: sustainable governance of farmland and farm buildings in city regions and rural areas. Worldwide, farmland is under pressure due to transition to urban land uses, such as residential areas, industry and roads. Given the importance of farmland for food production and other ecosystem services such as adaptation to climate change, the protection of farmland is considered as a challenge. All the more since urbanites have renewed interest for food and local food networks. This session will deal with farmland governance, i.e. the policies and other initiatives that manage the use of farmland and farm buildings. In particular, we focus on those governance strategies aiming at preserving farmland from the conversion to urban uses and those that support diverse agricultural uses of farmland and maintain active farming, in both periurban and rural settings. First, this session will welcome comparative analyses or case studies of farmland governance strategies around the world. Then, this session will welcome studies on farm buildings management. Finally, this session will welcome insights on the current drivers for innovations in farmland and farm building governance.
    • A2 Towards a commercial food urban planning? Tensions and complementarities between peripheral trade and agricultural lands. The development of mass distribution has significantly changed the way households are supplied. In France, for example, 70% of food expenditures are made in supermarkets and hypermarkets. Built in the form of commercial "boxes" with low quality architecture, supermarkets comprise large sales areas, accompanied by large parking lots and delivery areas. This land-intensive commercial urbanism is spreading over periurban agricultural lands. In a context of mainstreaming of sustainable development in planning, this land consumption contradicts the objectives of preserving natural and food resources, and generates tensions and communities’ protests. In this context, the session wishes to open the debate on the relationship between peripheral trade and agricultural land. It will particularly explore tensions, regulations, but also initiatives to "reconcile" these themes, with results sometimes more related to "greenwashed" commercial projects than to the real preservation of agricultural land.
    • A3 Governing the water and reconnecting food territories. In many rural areas, conflicts over water use and access are significant. Overcoming the challenge of accessing this scarce resource involves both the organization of local communities to share it, and the intervention of public authorities to manage it according to development priorities. However, neither actors nor public authorities are able to agree on priorities for the management of the resource, revealing the fragility of water governance. This session aims to open a debate on the territorialisation of public policies in contexts where the economy (particularly agriculture) has been designed to satisfy external markets, which has led to a decoupling in urban-rural relations around the food issue.
    • A4 Other proposals on the thematic A.


Thematic B. Spatial interactions between cities and countryside, between food production and consumption areas. Contributions are expected on the new spatial dynamics of food that emerge from the “geographies of flows “: for example, short food supply chains linking rural and urban areas, or food hubs dedicated to alternative food networks. Contributions are also expected on how the geography of migration influences food supply and production spaces as well as food practices. Sessions may deal with the geography of diasporas, the dynamics of markets related to the migrations of farmers, collectors and foodstuffs sellers, or the back-to-the-land movement, with urban dwellers moving to the countryside to become farmers or new rural entrepreneurs. Urban metabolism approaches may shed light on circularity of nutrient flows, the spatial footprint of food systems, and on what historical transformations of nutrient flows tell us about the interactions between cities and their rural hinterlands.

  • Sessions
    • B1 Geographies of food supply relocalization. The concept of relocalization of food supply applies to both production and consumption. It is opposed to the distancing (both spatial, relational...) induced by the globalized agri-food system. Alternative food systems have been emerging since the 1980s and are expanding to the point of influencing the current regime of mass distribution. Indeed, beyond the multiplication of small sales initiatives, by producers or craftsmen marketing only their own production, more structured initiatives are emerging for value chains integrating new distributors initially specialised in local products. This session will study the linkages between production sites, often (semi-)rural, and the new locations of middle men specific to short food supply chains. It will also characterize the spatial footprint of food supply flows at different scales, from producer or distributor to territorial food initiatives and policies.
    • B2 Digital food supply through rural-urban relations. Fledgling 5 years ago, digital food distribution is becoming a practical reality. In France, it now represents 6.6% of daily purchases made online and a return of 6 billion euros, up 11% per year. This rapid emergence has led to new ways of interpreting urban-rural relations. Are food pick-up spots offering city dwellers easier access to agricultural products? Besides the analysis of these initiatives, contributions could question the motivations of rural actors, between the desire and/or need for empowerment in face of mass distribution and the desire to promote their products in terms of quality and localism. Digital technology is also allowing increasing links between consumers based on the principle of sales between individuals, barter and exchange. From a more geographical perspective, the session will aim to study how these approaches create the conditions for new spatial interactions, where urban areas are seen both as consumer spaces, as well as interfaces between individual consumers and other actors transformed into producers, according to practices that are still largely ignored. While it may be possible to consider that they activate the traditional considerations that govern food supply (proximity, accessibility, time constraints, etc.), they may also be based on more unexpected factors arising from digital technology...
    • B3 Initiatives to reconnect agriculture, food and territory. The specialization of production at both farm and territory level goes hand in hand with an opening of material cycles that has multiple negative consequences on the environment. It also places producers in forms of dependency. Developing diversified and autonomous production systems, and reconnecting agriculture with food consumption then appear as a necessity to designing sustainable agri-food systems. This session will illustrate this notion of territorial reconnection of the agri-food system by comparing initiatives that articulate the food supply of a territory (farms, with their production but also their input supplies), the types of marketing channels, food consumption, and waste management. Methodological contributions are also expected in relation to territorial metabolism and spatial analysis.
    • B4 Agriculture, in the interactions between cities and their hinterland. In some contexts, socio-economic relations between cities and the countryside are strongly marked by trade in agricultural products. This context raises the question of how agriculture could be better equipped to address food security issues. Between phases of land abandonment and recovery, agricultural intensification or agro-ecological transition, presence or absence of the State, many agricultural changes and innovations are developed by farmers to support or redirect production. This session aims to describe, through a combination of field surveys and spatial analysis, how new forms of connection between cities and agriculture are taking place, and in relation with which reconfigurations of interdependencies between cities and hinterlands.
    •  B5 Other proposals on the thematic B.


Thematic C. Spatial inequalities of food access. Contributions will address the uneven access to food and agriculture for vulnerable groups, including those affected by the poverty-malnutrition-disease cycle. These inequalities of access may affect urban, rural, agricultural or non-agricultural populations. Geographers analyze food inequalities by situating them within the urban dynamics of gentrification and segregation and linking them to food production regimes. They can also characterize the diversity of food environments or ‘foodscapes’, especially those which provide access to healthy food through physical and economic access to food retailing (either for consumption at home or outside), or through home food production (urban gardening and breeding) and other informal food practices such as donations, self-picking or scavenging. Inaccessibility may also relate to rural settlements’ decline, to urban neighborhoods’ marginalization, or to the poor working conditions of agrifood workers. All these approaches open up a reflection on spatial inequalities, as well as on the specific role of agriculture in food justice issues. The factors explaining these inequalities and the solutions that can be implemented to reduce them will be examined.

  • Sessions
    • C1 Which market place(s) in the city? Temporary areas for itinerant vendors were once essential places for supplying populations until the rise of mass distribution. The arrival of new forms of trade, family changes and lifestyles have led to the decline of markets until recently. In a few years, markets have been revitalised. For many urban dwellers, markets seem to have regained a privileged place for family supplies, through its products but also through the time devoted to it, in strong relation to "good living". At the same time, part of the urban population also finds in itinerant places of trade access to products typical of certain food cultures that cannot be found elsewhere. It also provides proximity to affordable supply of basic foodstuffs for low-income and less mobile people (non-vehicular, elderly, etc.). The papers expected in this session will examine the diversity of these dynamics, the spatial changes they drive on urban areas, as well as the new urban-rural linkages at their roots.
    • C2 Social justice, spatial justice, and foodscapes. This session will address food justice from three inputs. A first entry will question how access to basic food products is achieved. It will be a question of understanding what is at stake in policies to support these essential food products, such as food aid, and at what scale. Are product protection policies defined primarily to meet the needs of urban consumers or rural producers? The aim will be to determine the role of public, private and associative actors in cities and rural areas and analyze the resulting territorial food governance. A second perspective will examine the access to food of disadvantaged social groups such as women, people from immigrant backgrounds, or agricultural workers, taking into account spatial patterns specific to the integration of these populations in urban and rural areas. Expected papers will present case studies showing how these initiatives aim to reduce social and spatial inequalities in the access to food. A third perspective will be based on a socio-spatial interpretation of food landscapes, from the dual point of view of the spatial distribution of food supply and the spatial practices of consumer supply. This session will open a debate on the urban-rural analytical grids required to address food issues through the scope of justice.
    • C3 Other proposals on the thematic C.


Thematic D. Social movements, public actions and local food governance. The concern around the relocalization of food leads to new relationships among the food system’s actors. Contributions are expected to analyze the process by which these actors re-territorialize the food system, knowing that there is a wide range of actors operating at several scales in various spheres (private, public, associative) so as to foster local food chains. Implicitly, these emerging new forms of local governance are supposed to promote more sustainable food systems. More broadly, this new food governance may result in a reorganization of local public action. In this context, the food question can be considered as a territorial policy, the objective of which is to build linkages among local food actors (farmers, processors, consumers, public and associative actors) and to advocate for their participation in public decisions.

  • Sessions
    • D1 Citizen food movements. Studies of alternative food networks have shown the dynamics of food relocalization, built in opposition to the agro-industry based diet. However, to what extent are these initiatives able to be deployed at significant scales? To what extent are they supported by the citizen movement and supported by local governments? For example, in Brasilia, a network of restaurants delivering quality local food has been set up, connecting consumers, restaurants and local producers. The expected papers will show how this "food movement" succeeds or fails in activating alternative food networks, for the benefit of which populations, and with which public support. The aim will be to open a debate on the contribution of geography to the study of these alternative networks, their specific spatial characteristics and their territorialisation dynamics. 
    • D2 Building places and territories that strengthen food sufficiency and resilience. New mechanisms combining collective and political initiatives are being tested to guarantee food security and in particular to increase the food sufficiency of cities (i.e. the quantity of locally produced food that is consumed locally). In the field of urban development, practical solutions are being tested to improve the ecological and social resilience of open spaces, particularly those affected by urban sprawl, agricultural abandonment processes and territorial fragmentation. Contributions are expected to inform these processes: analysis of the cities’ productive capacity with regard to food needs, mobilizing the concept of food basin; analysis of inter-sectoral territorial structures with a view to strengthening local supply; strategies for anticipating crises or disasters that strengthen the resilience of the local food system; development of urban planning methodologies to improve the resilience of metropolitan areas with a view to food self-sufficiency, by integrating action research and the use of geographical information systems.
    • D3 Other proposals on the thematic D.


Thematic E. The representations of what is urban and what is rural as reframed by food. Food also changes the values ​​associated with urban and rural areas. Contributions will shed light on these cultural geography questions, dealing both with the values ​​and representations of cities and the countryside, and with the values of food, gastronomy and land. The re-localization of food blurs borders, because while the countryside is urbanizing, the city is witnessing the redevelopment of urban agriculture. Besides, the public valorization of "healthy and local" food modifies the representations of traditional "good food", while responding to cosmopolitan consumers’ demand for various "ethnic" products. Political actors also embed these food trends into territorial marketing. Sessions may explore how to rethink the spatial and food categories in face of these re-localization dynamics, within the context of globalization.

  • Sessions
    • E1 Urban and rural dimensions of food trade. This proposed session aims to question the spatial categories of rural, peri-urban and urban areas in terms of food trade. Indeed, market places have evolved significantly in recent decades, both through the emergence of new forms of trade and through the ever-increasing mobility of consumers and the transformation of their purchasing practices. Nowadays, the dynamics of food trade are largely intertwined with the growing debates on agricultural production methods and their sustainability. There is also a certain renewal of the commercial actors and modalities, which originated from cities and played a central role in the construction of local products, and therefore of the terroirs themselves. Papers are expected on the role of trade dynamics in the definition of different types of spaces in which food trade takes place. More broadly, it is a question of seeing how these dynamics of food trade contribute to redefining urban and rural areas. Urban areas are understood as spaces of social and functional mix aimed at promoting all forms of interaction, whereas rural areas are understood as productive relationships with nature, inseparable from social and cultural relationships.
    • E2 The place of edible plants in the city. Nowadays, agriculture is settling in the city, contributing to its "greening" in the name of biodiversity, but also for its social and nourishing functions, or in support of a local economy. Collective gardens constitute a field of observation of individual and collective practices and representations of agriculture. The objective of this session will be to question the consideration of city dwellers for edible plants in the city. Approaches may include an assessment of their landscape sensitivity, and the tensions between landscapes created by inhabitants in interaction with their living environment, and landscapes designed through urban planning. They will also be able to compare the different forms of relationships that are sensitive to urban vegetation, whether it is edible like the garden or aesthetic like the urban park..
    • E3 Urban livestock farming. Less studied than urban gardening or market gardening, livestock farming offers another facet of urban-rural relationships. In the North, driven out of cities for reasons of urban hygiene, livestock farming, which had essentially become a rural activity, has recently returned to cities. Whether for food or leisure purposes, livestock farming takes place in the city where it provides a diversity of services. In many cities in the South, livestock farming has not disappeared from the cities, where it remains an economic activity that provides jobs and food. The regulation of livestock activities in urban areas remains a sensitive issue, not only for reasons of hygiene, but also for cultural and religious reasons. This session will open a debate on the urban and rural nature of livestock activities in an urban context.
    • E4 Other proposals on the thematic E.