UNMAKING: a research programme on the disruption of capitalism in societal transformation to sustainability

PhD research project: Agricultural grassroots initiatives and the making of post-capitalist futures in, between and beyond the countryside and the city

Agricultural grassroots initiatives and the making of post-capitalist futures in, between and beyond the countryside and the city

PhD student: Julia Spanier.

Supervisors: Giuseppe Feola, Ellen Moors, Marion Ernwein

This thesis employs a rural-urban perspective to investigate agricultural grassroots initiatives as post-capitalist agents and spaces. Building on scholarship on capitalism’s production of rural-urban space and socially unjust and ecologically unsustainable rural-urban relations, as well as on analyses of capitalist and right-wing performances of the rural, it explores how agricultural grassroots initiatives, predominantly considered for their role in the transformation of the food system and the prefiguration of post-capitalist futures, are shaped by these rural-urban geographies, and how they are shaping them in return.

The thesis asks:

  1. What does it mean to study post-capitalist transformations from a rural-urban perspective?
  2. Whether and how do agricultural grassroots initiatives prefigure rural-urban relations, and contribute to the transformation of the countryside, in line with visions of post-capitalist futures?
  3. What is the potential for agricultural grassroots initiatives to engage in rural-urban alliances for post-capitalist transformation?, and
  4. How do the rural and rural-urban relations shape post-capitalist transformations?

To engage with these questions, the thesis studies the case of community-supported agriculture (CSA) in Germany, both through an in-depth exploration of four CSA initiatives and through an exploration of the German CSA network.


Publications within the PhD project:  

Spanier, J., Feola, G2022Nurturing the post-growth city: bringing the rural back inIn: Savini, F., Ferreria, A., von Schönfeld, K. C. (Eds.)  Post-Growth Planning: cities beyond the market economy. Routledge, 159-172. 

Spanier, J., Guerrero Lara, L., Feola, G., 2024. A one-sided love affair? On the potential for a coalition between degrowth and community-supported agriculture in Germany. Agriculture and Human Values 41, 25-45.


Further Publications: 

Guerrero Lara, L., van Oers, L., Smessaert, J., Spanier, J., Raj, G., Feola, G., (in press). Degrowth and Agri-Food Systems: A Research Agenda for the Critical Social SciencesSustainability Science, DOI: 10.1007/s11625-022-01276-y

Feola, G., Guerrero Lara, L., Smessaert, J. Spanier, J. 2020. Book Review: The Case for DegrowthEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 37: 381-382.