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Becoming ecological citizens: Connecting people through performance art, food matter and practices

Roe, Emma; Buser, Michael


Emma Roe


© The Author(s) 2016. Engaging the interest of Western citizens in the complex food connections that shape theirs’ and others’ personal wellbeing around issues such as food security and access is challenging. This article is critical of the food marketplace as the site for informing consumer behaviour and argues instead for arts-based participatory activities to support the performance of ecological citizens in non-commercial spaces. Following the ongoing methodological and conceptual fascination with performance, matter and practice in cultural food studies, we outline what the ecological citizen, formed through food’s agentive potential, does and could do. This is an ecological citizen, defined not in its traditional relation to the state but rather to the world of humans and non-humans whose lives are materially interconnected through nourishment. The article draws on the theories of Berlant, Latour, Bennett and Massumi. Our methodology is a collaborative arts-led research project that explored and juxtaposed diverse food practices with artist Paul Hurley, researchers, community partners, volunteers and participants in Bristol, UK. It centred on a 10-day exhibition where visitors were exposed to a series of interactive explorations with and about food. Our experience leads us to outline two steps for enacting ecological citizenship. The first step is to facilitate sensory experiences that enable the agential qualities of foodstuffs to shape knowledge making. The second is to create a space where people can perform, or relate differently, in unusual manners to food. Through participating in the project and visiting the exhibition, people were invited to respond not only as ‘ethical consumers’ but also as ‘ecological citizens’. This participatory approach to research can contribute to understandings of human-world entanglements.


Roe, E., & Buser, M. (2016). Becoming ecological citizens: Connecting people through performance art, food matter and practices. cultural geographies, 23(4), 581-598.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 28, 2015
Online Publication Date Jan 14, 2016
Publication Date Oct 1, 2016
Deposit Date Nov 30, 2015
Journal Cultural Geographies
Print ISSN 1474-4740
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 4
Pages 581-598
Keywords food, performance, citizenship, matter, food bank, well-being, food insecurities, food access, participatory research, arts-based research, arts-based
Public URL
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