Competing Sovereignties, Contested Processes: Insights from the Venezuelan Food Sovereignty Experiment
This article explores how ‘competing sovereignties’ are shaping the political construction of food sovereignty—broadly defined as ‘the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems’. This study was motivated by a lack of clarity on the ‘sovereignty’ of food sovereignty, as noted by numerous scholars—sovereignty for whom, and how? As there is a growing consensus that there are in fact ‘multiple sovereignties’ of food sovereignty that cut across jurisdictions and scales, there is the question of how these sovereignties are competing with each other in the attempted construction of food sovereignty. This question is becoming ever more relevant as food sovereignty is increasingly adopted into state policy at various levels, calling for state and societal actors to redefine their terms of engagement. This article explores questions of ‘competing sovereignties’ by developing an analytical framework, using the lenses of scale, geography, and institutions, and applying it to Venezuela, where for the past 15 years a food sovereignty experiment has been underway in the context of a dynamic shift in state–society relations.