Visiting food sovereignty : exploring the relations of food sovereignty and tourism
Abstract: Both the agriculture and tourism sectors have been heavily criticized for the social and environmental imprints they leave on the world, especially in rural areas. This thesis explores the intersection between alternative approaches to both agriculture and tourism which seek to bring positive social and ecological effects to rural areas. I ask how and to what extent practices of food sovereignty and tourism can intertwine to promote rural development, one that addresses the social and ecological issues tied to the practices of predominantly economic-oriented agriculture and tourism. Through an explorative case study conducted at the Cloughjordan Eco Village in Ireland, the analysis shows how through the interaction of food sovereignty and tourism both forces are concomitantly shaped by each other. Practices of tourism enact and encounter food sovereignty, while food sovereignty imbues the tourism experience with its ecological and social characteristics. Furthermore, the thesis analyses how such interactions contribute to the formulation of a larger system of food exchange within which the integrated elements of food sovereignty and tourism contribute to characterise the system as a social and solidarity economy. In these ways the thesis contributes to expanding an unexplored academic field as it exemplifies how a ‘food sovereign tourism’ might be practiced and how it might characterise rural agriculture and tourism. The thesis concludes with a reflection on the way that rural areas might achieve more socially and ecologically oriented food systems and tourism practices simultaneously. From a wider perspective, the analysis highlights that alternative approaches to agriculture and travel may be utilised to harness synergies and provide rural areas with the benefits that both approaches espouse; that of healthier, environmentally sound and more equitable food systems integrated with a tourism which is responsive to the cultural, social and financial needs of hosts.
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