|Omakätisen ruoantuotannon monilajiset taloudet
Small-scale food production for domestic use or local markets is common in Finland. In particular, edible gardening and berry- and mushroom-picking are part of everyday life in many households and other small communities; for example, honey is typically produced in small apiaries. In this thesis I examine this phenomenon as an economic activity. Drawing on the theoretical and methodological framework of diverse economies (Gibson-Graham 2006a, 2006b), I understand the economy as an open and non-predefined multiplicity, and I concentrate on situated ways of doing economies in everyday practices of food production. I especially focus on how economies are enacted as more-than-human in small-scale food production and food self-provisioning. In food production, the human and the non-human are intertwined in particularly tangible ways as non-human beings are grown, raised, collected and processed to materially sustain human bodies. To analyse economies’ more-than-human aspects, I draw not only on diverse economies scholarship but also on feminist post-anthropocentric research traditions. From these starting points I ask first what kinds of multispecies economies are enacted in small-scale food production; second, how small-scale food production can be analysed as multispecies economies; and third, how examining small-scale food production opens up new ways to conceptualise multispecies economies.
This thesis consists of four articles, plus an extensive summary that provides a background for the articles and compiles the research findings. In the articles, I examine everyday practices of community-based vegetable farming, small-scale beekeeping, and household-centred mushroom-picking, as well as small-scale food production as part of a Nordic welfare state. Empirically the study is based on ethnographic research data, which I collected mainly through participant observation and interviews among practitioners of the above-mentioned forms of food production in different parts of Finland. I analysed the data using qualitative content analysis techniques, thematisation, and close reading. The analysis was guided by the strategy of reading for difference, which I took from the diverse economies framework and implemented in my research in the form of thick description, counterhegemonic reading and opening up to contradictions. Reading for difference is a performative strategy of knowledge production that aims to withdraw from hegemonising ways of knowing about the economy, thereby opening up to the unknown diversity of economies and their endlessly complex, more-than-human relationality.
In the research, I analyse the thick multispecies interrelationality of everyday practices of small-scale food production and food self-provisioning, as well as the multiple meanings they bear for the practitioners’ livelihood and well-being. In addition, the research surfaces more-than-human, situated ways of knowing that are enacted in small-scale food production. The research framework of multispecies economies construes small-scale food production and food self-provisioning as ways of actively enacting economies and as unpredictable, non-innocent processes of more-than-human becoming. Based on my ethnographically situated analysis, I develop the concept of keskinäinen toimeentulo, which refers to the ongoing relationality of life-sustaining practices – the entanglement of making a living and getting along with more-than-human others. My research proposes the concept as a tool to examine the multispeciesness of everyday economies as an ethical question.
The research participates in social scientific discussions of the economy as a material-semiotic and relational phenomenon by coupling the diverse economies framework with feminist post-anthropocentric approaches, and by implementing them in empirical research. Through ethnographic analysis and methodological work, the research makes small-scale food production and food self-provisioning understandable as multispecies economies in the making, and through the concept of keskinäinen toimeentulo it examines the complex multispecies relationality of livelihood production. Altogether, my research reflects on the ethico-political significance of everyday hands-on practices of small-scale food production, and the epistemic practices of research concerning them, for the enactment of liveable futures.
|Sienestystä pohjoisilla puupelloilla: metsien moninaiset taloudet ja plantaasiosentrismin ongelma
Mushroom-foraging in Finland is often done in forests that live according to a cycle of clearing, planting and thinning. In this article, forest management that prioritizes short-rotation timber production is termed ’plantationocentric’, following critiques of capitalocentrism in feminist economic geography. In plantationocentric discourses and practices, plantations, characterized by simplification, forced multispecies labour and temporal disturbances, are taken as the model for all primary production. This in turn subordinates various actual and potential livelihood practices, including foraging. The problem of plantationocentrism is approached through a postcapitalist methodology by examining mushroom-foraging as an intentional form of livelihood production, and by analysing its situated entanglement with plantation-like production. In addition to material subsistence, mushroom-foraging produces well-being and meaningful relationships between people but also species. Therefore, foraging opens up possibilities to see forest economies as more diverse than timber production, and calls into question those economies’ anthropocentrism. Plantations are indeed an inseparable part of contemporary mushroom-foraging as well as the conceptualization of diverse forest economies. Nevertheless, adjusting to or acknowledging the presence of plantations does not necessarily mean complying with plantationocentrism. Possibilities for livelihoods amid but also beyond the ruins of plantation economies are sustained in the diversity of forest-based production, and through their critical and affirmative examination.
|Building Upon, Extending Beyond: Small-Scale Food Production Within a Nordic Welfare State.
|Translating Diverse Economies in the Anglocene
|Beekeeping expertise as situated knowing in precarious multispecies livelihoods
In this article I analyse beekeeping expertise as situated knowing in the precarious conditions of multispecies livelihoods. Beekeeping is knowledge-intensive: distinct expertise is required to keep colonies alive and thriving, to produce honey, and to support pollination – that is, to maintain livelihoods. The conditions in which beekeeping expertise is developed and enacted are precarious due to close entanglements with ultimately unintelligible non-human others and their changing habitats. Using ethnographic and interview data collected among urban beekeepers in Finland, I first describe the precariousness embedded in beekeeping as sharing lifeworlds and becoming with non-human others, particularly in an epoch characterized by severe environmental disturbances. Second, I analyse learning and practising beekeeping as the development and enactment of beekeeping expertise as situated ways of knowing. From beekeeping courses, books, and social relationships, beekeepers learn not only the necessary skills but also ways of knowing that value diversity and variability. By practising and observing in the hive yard, they further learn to be affected by bees and their multispecies habitats, attuning their practices and perceptions in accordance with them. Beekeeping expertise therefore entails ways of knowing that are local, relational, practical, and open to changes and even surprises, recognising the incompleteness of knowledge as well as the unprecedented agency of non-human others. Such situated knowing enables beekeepers to acknowledge and act upon the complex interdependencies of multispecies livelihoods in changing socio-ecological conditions.
|Ruoantuotannon ristiriitoja rikkaruohonjuuritasolla. Kitkeminen työnä, tiedontuotantona ja tulevaisuuksien tekemisenä
Food production is a feminist issue, and feminist research offers many fruitful ways of examining its different sectors. In this article I incite a dialogue on food production between feminist theories on naturecultures and the economy. Using concepts of companion species and diverse economies I analyse weed management as multispecies relations and ask, how voluntary weeding practices open up space for
re-imagining food production. The research material was collected on two community-based farms, where weeding was arranged as diverse work. It also turned out to be part of situated knowledge production which guided future farming practices. Weeding enabled renegotiating work and recognizing non-human others as part of food production, redefining both intra- and interspecies relations on the farms and therefore opening up space for different futures for food production.