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The Practice of Changing the Rules of Practice: An Agonistic View on Food Sovereignty

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What does it mean to "do politics"? On the one hand, political practices have to be considered as part of the large mesh of interrelated everyday practices. On the other hand, they are reflective "practices of freedom" that aim at changing the rules of practice. We will make a case for agonistic theory that takes democracy to be a constant struggle over the setting up and the different interpretations of rules and use practice theory as our entrance point to empirically address the tension between the constituted power that rules exert on our practice and the constituent power, i.e. the power to set up or change the rules. Empirically, we will have a closer look at the paradoxes and the practice of food sovereignty, a political concept that emerged as a counterpart to the dominant neoliberal paradigm of globalist food production and was taken up by leftist Latin American governments and social movements alike. By analyzing two concrete situations that emerged during our field work in Bolivia we will show that actual "practices of freedom" can appear to be quite ordinary and mundane.

Auf der einen Seite sind politische Praktiken Teil des heterogenen Netzes alltäglicher Praktiken. Auf der anderen Seite stellen sie reflexive ,,Praktiken der Freiheit" dar, die darauf abzielen, die Regeln von Praktiken ihrerseits zu verändern. In unseren Ausführungen beziehen wir uns auf agonistische Theorie, welche Demokratie als eine konstante Auseinandersetzung über das Aufstellen und die Interpretation von politischen Regeln auffasst. Dabei nutzen wir Praktikentheorie als konzeptionellen Zugang zur empirischen Untersuchung des Spannungsverhältnisses zwischen der konstituierten Macht, die Regeln über unser Handeln haben, und der konstituierenden Macht, mit der wir Regeln aufstellen und verändern. Anhand des Konzeptes der Ernährungssouveränität, einem von linken Regierungen und sozialen Bewegungen propagierten Gegenentwurf zum neoliberalen Paradigma globalisierter Nahrungsproduktion, untersuchen wir die Paradoxien und die Praktiken einer solchen politischen Idee. Die Analyse zwei konkreter Situationen, die sich während eines Feldaufenthaltes in Bolivien ergeben haben, zeigt, dass tatsächliche ,,Praktiken der Freiheit" sehr alltäglich und unspektakulär sein können.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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  • Since its beginning in 1895, the Geographische Zeitschrift has been one of the leading journals in its field. To this day, its mission is to be the voice of both theory-based empirical research and the theoretical and methodological debate in human geography. As an internationally respected professional journal, it is committed to the highest standards. The originality, high quality and topicality of its articles are guaranteed by international expert referees. By transcending traditional subject boundaries, the Geographische Zeitschrift makes a decisive contribution to the continuing evolution of human geography. It prints German- and English-language articles.
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