Still searching for (food) sovereignty: why are radical discourses only partially mobilised in the independent Anglo-Caribbean?

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The notion of ‘food sovereignty’ is often surprisingly absent in food and agricultural discourses in the Anglo-Caribbean, where over the past half century policy-making has aligned with conventional ‘food security’ approaches. This paper argues that, in addition to its contemporary entrenchment within a neoliberal environment, this is also due to the nature of ‘sovereignty’ itself in a region which has been shaped by a distinctive colonial, social and economic history. In order to demonstrate this, firstly, it makes the case for why, in the context of rising food imports and enduring structural legacies, food sovereignty matters in the Anglo-Caribbean. Secondly, it charts changes in the regional policy of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to show how, despite repeated calls to increase self-sufficiency, conventional neoliberal approaches to agricultural development and food security have predominated since the 1970s. Finally, it identifies and analyses limited instances where food sovereignty discourses have been mobilized, by farmers’ groups and political actors, and interrogates the meaning of both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ sovereignty itself in this post-colonial context. It finds mobilisations of food sovereignty to be characterised by a repeated conflation of domestic food production with the concept's ideological principles as a political project, and a particular understanding of sovereignty that places an emphasis on ‘the state’ and ‘the region’ over ‘the people’. This shows that the very nature of ‘sovereignty’ itself plays a critical role in both the translation of, and possibilities for mobilising ‘food sovereignty’ as a radical project as envisaged in the wider literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-99
Number of pages10
Early online date8 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Agriculture
  • Caribbean
  • Food security
  • Food sovereignty
  • Neoliberalism
  • Sovereignty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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