The Spatial Implications of Food Citizenship in the Realm of Urban Consumption

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference presentation


Cities are in a position to spatially facilitate sustainable food system transformations, as well as
accommodate sustainable diets. They hold leverage from the consumption end over the whole food
supply chain, both as a function of the sum total of the individual consumer choices and food
provisioning practices taking place in them, and through exerting power by collective food citizenship.
From a spatial design perspective this poses the following challenge: How can our urban environments
and spaces be designed to make sustainable food practices as convenient and universally adoptable as
possible? How can they best enable and support food citizenship? What are the spatial barriers that
currently exist to many and how do we eliminate them to allow for collectively practised urban
sustainability? My research considers the spatial implications and preconditions of facilitating such
desirable changes in the context of affluent Western cities. First, it considers the direct spatial means
(architectures and urbanisms) of redistribution: provision of public space, public institutions &
infrastructure, as well as affordable mobility and housing, that have traditionally been used by the
welfare state, as potential tools to also help secure more widespread/equitable access and lower
barriers to more sustainable diets and food practices (e.g., having access to adequate food retail
options, cooking facilities, the necessary space to sit down for meals, to store food safely or to sort
waste). Secondly, it considers how a more active participation in the food system, in all its possible
forms (from food advocacy to the rediscovery of home cooking) can be spatially accommodated -
addressing the various social (gender, racial and socioeconomic) inequalities that both create unequal
access to ‘re-engaging with food’ and also often reinforce barriers by that very act of engaging with it.
And thirdly, this research considers how through design (as visions, imaginaries and prototypes) we
can also shape people’s subjectivities. For it is not only that the living environments we construct shape
our subjectivities (including our political subjectivity), but that the reverse is true as well: one way to
change our environments, is by changing the ‘dream’, that is by changing and re-imagining the
narratives guiding it.
Period26 Nov 2021
Event titleYHYS Colloquium: Sustainable Welfare: States and capabilities of transformation
Event typeConference
LocationEspoo, FinlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • food citizenship
  • sustainable welfare
  • foodscapes