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Ontological Possibilities: Rhizoanalytic Explorations of Community Food Work in Central Appalachia
D\'Adamo-Damery, Philip Carl
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In the United States, the community food movement has been put forward as a potential solution for a global food system that fails to provide just and equitable access to nutritious food. This claim has been subject to the criticism of a variety of scholars and activists, some of whom contend that the alternative food movement is complicit in the re-production of neoliberalism and is therefore implicated in the making of the unjust system. In this dissertation I use theories of Deleuze (and Guatarri) and science and technology scholars to enter the middle of this dichotomy. I argue that both readings of community food work, as just and unjust, rely on realist epistemologies that posit knowledge as representative of an existing reality. I alternatively view knowledge as much more contingent and plural, resulting in a multiplicity of realities that are much less fixed. The idea that reality is a product of knowledge, rather than the inverse, raises the question of how reality might be made differently, or of ontological politics. This is the question I set out to interrogate: how might the realities of community food work be read and made differently, and how this reading might open new possibilities for transformation? To explore this question, I conducted interviews with 18 individuals working for three different non-profit community food organizations in central Appalachia. I used and appreciative inquiry approach to capture stories that affected these individuals' stories about their work captured their visions and hope for food system change. I then used a (non)method, rhizoanalysis, to code the data affectively, reading for the interesting, curious, and remarkable, rather than attempting to trace a strong theory like neoliberalism onto the data. Drawing on Delueze and Guattari, I mapped excerpts from the data into four large narrative cartographies. In each cartography, the narrative excerpts are positioned to vibrate against one another; my hope is that these resonances might open lines of flight within the reader and space for new ontological possibilities. For adult and community educators, I posit this rhizoanalysis as a poststructuralist contribution to Freire's concept of the generative theme and of use to broader project of agonistic pluralism.
- Doctoral Dissertations