Hunting for Food Citizenship: Food, Politics, and Discourses of the Wild

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In the words of food hunting advocate Tovar Cerulli (2012a), hunting is taking a seat at the table of food “citizenship”: it is increasingly positioned as a way for people to engage with questions about how food and people ought to be governed. While a burgeoning literature on food citizenship exists, it focuses on agrarian citizenship projects and overlooks wilder food practices, like hunting. Given that several prominent food activists are now advocating the practice, food hunting warrants careful examination as a model of food citizenship. This study uses a Foucauldian view of discourse to explore the food citizenships mobilized in food hunting lifestyle manuals. It finds that models of food citizenship mobilized by these food hunting texts echo elements of agrarian food citizenships, but also diverge from them in startling ways—rendering hunting-based food citizenships nigh unrecognizable as expressions of food citizenship, at least by agrarian standards. Rather than champion reconfigurations of agrarian-industrial food networks to foster close-knit communities and relations of care, food hunting citizenships aim to reconfigure human-nature relations so that humans are compelled—via appeals to biological and genetic destiny—to govern themselves in ways suited to the Anthropocene, the current ‘age of humanity,’ in which humans must contend with (and check) their power to threaten nature, and endure the power of nature to threaten humans (Davoudi, 2014, p. 360). As of and for the Anthropocene, hunting-based food citizenships are rather grim and defeatist: prudent hunters exercise vigilance and self-control in the wild, minimizing human-wrought destruction threatening human and food security; whereas resilient hunters cultivate the readiness and resourcefulness required to endure disruptive changes wrought by wild-nature and the perpetual vulnerability of humans in wild food systems. Hunting-based food citizenships, however, open up space to consider the role of sentient animals—as autonomous, self-governing actors—within models of food citizenship. They also render visible wild species, wild lands, and wild discourses as integral to debates about food policy.
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Carruthers Den Hoed, R. (2017). Hunting for Food Citizenship: Food, Politics, and Discourses of the Wild (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/26399