The People’s Food Policy Project (PFPP) used ‘food sovereignty’ to unite civil society organizations and build a national food policy agenda in Canada from 2008 to 2011. Agri-food scholarship largely highlights the resistance and empowerment dynamic of food sovereignty in the context of neoliberal capital relations. We propose that the story of what food sovereignty discourse does, or could do, in the work of civil society organizations (CSOs), is more complicated. This article contributes to agri-food literature and CSOs studies by examining the governmentalities of the PFPP. We find that the PFPP’s food sovereignty produced at least two discourses: food sovereignty as ethic, or a governmentality of resistance and agrarian empowerment; and food sovereignty as tactic, which we see as a governmentality of administration by CSOs. While PFPP activists increasingly share a spoken commitment to food sovereignty, the analytic of governmentality allows us to show these important differences in the movement, rooted in how CSO actors understand their day-to-day work, and the tensions these differences bring to their seemingly united agenda.

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Keywords civil society, Food sovereignty, governmentality, peoples food policy project
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Journal Journal of Civil Society
Martin, S.J. (Sarah J.), & Andrée, P. (2017). Putting food sovereignty to work: civil society governmentalities and Canada’s people’s food policy project (2008–2011). Journal of Civil Society, 1–18. doi:10.1080/17448689.2017.1355034