In our conversation with rural sociologist Jessica Duncan (Wageningen U), we talk about dialogue and participation in food policy, why we shouldn’t always be seeking consensus, and the importance of bringing diverse local actors into global policy conversations. We unpack Jessica and Priscilla Claeys' 2020 report Covid19, Gender and Food systems and discuss what is gained by "viewing the crisis from below".
About Jessica Duncan
Jessica Duncan is Associate Professor in the Politics of Sustainable Food Systems in the Rural Sociology at Wageningen University (the Netherlands). She holds a PhD in Food Policy from City University London (2014).
Jessica’s main research focus concerns the practices and politics of participation in food policy processes, particularly the relationships (formal and non-formal) between governance organisations, systems of food provisioning, the environment, and the actors engaged in and across these spaces. More specifically, she maps the diverse ways that actors participate in policy-making processes, analysing how the resulting policies are shaped, implemented, challenged, and resisted, and she theorises about what this means for socio-ecological transformation. Participation and engagement are at the core of her approach. In turn, she is active in a broad range of local, national and international initiatives with the aim of better understanding participation processes with a view towards transitioning to just and sustainable food systems.
Jessica has received several awards for her teaching and in 2017 she was awarded Teacher of the Year for Wageningen University (shortlisted again in 2018 and 2019, longlisted in 2020). With the funds she has received for these awards she launched a story-telling workshop for students and faculty. Jessica is a founding board member of the Centre for Unusual Collaborations and sits on the Editorial Board of the journal Sociologia Ruralis.
Background reading and resources
Jessica Duncan and Priscilla Claeys' open-access articles
COVID-19, Gender and Food systems (Duncan and Claeys, 2020)
Politicizing food security governance through participation: opportunities and opposition (Duncan and Claeys, 2018)
From Food Sovereignty to Peasants’ Rights (Claeys, 2013)