Beyond Alternative/Conventional: Māori Worlds of Food

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:42 AM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Cinzia PIATTI , University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Hugh CAMPBELL , University of Otago, New Zealand
Christopher ROSIN , University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Within popular understandings of the food crisis, the global food system is often perceived on the basis of a clear differentiation between ‘alternative’ and ‘conventional’. These two constructs generally distinguish between means of provisioning and consuming food according to narrow and readily measured economic, social and ecological criteria. This categorisation results in a strict dichotomy represented by antipodal views and explicit characterisations of value – what in terms of convention theory would be organised within orders of worth. In fact, the reframing of popular understandings of the food crisis require a more open engagement with food (its production and consumption) that recognises the diverse sites of action at which change can be enacted and realised. Such an approach sees continuity from mainstream activities to the small individual, independent and value-oriented ones.

This paper uses the theoretical framework of regimes of justification from convention theory (Boltanski and Thevenot 1986, 2006) to elaborate a Māori world of worth in order to demonstrate the potential for marginal economies (Gibson-Graham 1996, 2006) to reframe popular understandings of food and society. Within the New Zealand context, there has been some ferment around Māori groups -a minority whose culture is based on the concept of sustainability as a cornerstone- who recently implemented economic activities around a western-values frame in terms of economic organization. Using two case studies, both expressions of the Māori community but with two different approaches in terms of strategies, a reflection is presented on community organisation, food systems innovation and the role of market in food relations.