Our Publications

Global Research Academy • 2024

Rethinking Sustainability in Urban Areas: São Paulo, London, Berlin


Lea Zentgraf contributed to this study by addressing urban social and environmental issues like green space degradation, homelessness, and food waste. The research, part of the ‘Global Research Academy’ programme, involved doctoral researchers from the University of São Paulo, Freie Universität Berlin, and King’s College London. The study took place in London, Berlin, and São Paulo, comparing these cities’ unique challenges and drawing recommendations for sustainability. The findings, supervised by Professors Fabio Kon, Sérgio Costa, and Dr. Robert Cowley, are available via the USP repository. The programme was supported by international cooperation offices from the participating universities.

Lea Zentgraf

Springer link • 2024

Broadening the Climate Movement: The Marcha das Margaridas’ Agenda for the Climate (and Other) Crises


Climate movements led by students and the youth worldwide (and in particular, those in richer economies) have been recognized as having a formidable voice and making important contributions towards a more radical societal transformation to face the climate crisis. However, little is said about the contribution of popular sectors, who have been mobilizing for decades and demanding broader structural transformations—with proposals that tackle environmental issues more broadly and the climate crisis in particular—but who are not directly involved in climate politics arenas, such as the United Nations Climate Change conferences. Usually portrayed as vulnerable, as those most affected by climate events, as victims and receivers of adaptation strategies, or, as resilient, rarely do popular sectors appear as agents of transformation. Critical scholars have advocated for understanding the climate crisis as part of multiple crises, including the biodiversity crisis, a crisis of care, and a crisis of democracy. Situating our article within this scholarship, we argue that the scholarly and societal debate on climate change will further benefit from broadening the scope of which social subjects are considered as part of the climate movement. Based on our research with rural popular feminist movements in Brazil, and in particular, the coalition Marcha das Margaridas, we address the following questions: how are their diagnostics of, and proposals to, overcome the climate crisis embedded in their broader project of transformation? Additionally, how does their political identity within class, gender, and rural categories of inequality inform their positions?

Renata Motta, Marco Antonio Teixeira

The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food • 2023

Food Movements, Resistance, and new digital repertoires in (post-)pandemic times


While the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the vulnerability of the global food system, new resilient repertoires of collective action also showed how to overcome the multiple dimensions of this crisis. Food movements played an important role in creating innovative alternatives for a more just food system. In Germany, the pandemic affected and continues to affect agri-food relations. This article argues that digital communication was an important tool to connect people for purposes beyond sharing food and supporting food-related needs. Social media became a virtual platform for social mobilisation and innovation around food alternatives during and in a (post-) pandemic world. Two relevant actors in the German food mobilisation were the protest campaign Wir haben es satt! and the food movement Slow Food Germany. The work presented here is based on digital ethnographies and an analysis of documents from the period 2020-2022. The analysis focuses on how these two movements dealt with the crisis scenario, in relation to three classic levels of protest and social movement research: (1) actor level; (2) action level; and (3) transformation level. The comparison shows that both movements developed innovative digital and hybrid repertoires of collective action, and fostered coalitions between actors fighting for a socio-ecological transformation of the food system.

Lea Zentgraf, Thalita Kalix Garcia

Debates en Sociología N° 57 • 2023

Soberanía alimentaria y feminismo popular en Brasil


The Marcha das Margaridas is a coalition of feminist and women’s movements, agrarian movements, unions, and international organizations that emerged in the year 2000. The process is led by women’s organizations that are part of a confederation of rural workers. Although its initial program included class demands focused on gender for the recognition of women’s work in food production, access to land titles, and labor rights, the Marcha das Margaridas progressively incorporated other issues such as agroecology and food sovereignty. This article addresses three questions: How did food sovereignty enter its agenda? How do they interpret the concept of food sovereignty? How can food sovereignty be understood from a (popular) feminist perspective? Through an analysis of political documents, we identify five main themes in the discourse of the Marcha das Margaridas on food sovereignty: 1) food as a right and common good; 2) state support for women’s food production; 3) the value of non-commercialized food work; 4) environmental recovery through agroecology; 5) violence-free food produced within respectful social relationships.

Renata Motta, Marco Antonio Teixeira

Estudos Sociedade e Agricultura magazine • 2023

Mulheres jovens trabalhadoras rurais: a emergência de uma nova categoria política e suas repercussões no sindicalismo rural


The intended objective of this article was to analyze the interactions between the political categories ‘rural women workers’ and ‘rural youth workers’ within the National Confederation of Rural Workers, Farmers, and Family Farmers (Contag), highlighting the contributions and tensions generated in union action, especially with the increased participation of ‘young rural women workers’ as a distinct political category in unionism. The research was based on qualitative methodology, with a primary focus on the biographical narratives of three directors of Contag, in addition to institutional documents.

Among the main conclusions is that rural women workers inaugurated a form of action based on three pillars, directed towards the establishment of: i) specific spaces and processes for training and self-organization; ii) measures to expand participation conditions; iii) collective actions of a public nature. Thus, they institutionalized conditions for the emergence of other political categories, intersecting gender, generation, and class. It is from this process that young rural women workers emerge, claiming this political identity and weaving a field of articulation that resonates in unionism, advocating new approaches to issues present in the union agenda and competing for power and visibility on their concerns.

Eryka Galindo

Estudos Sociedade e Agricultura magazine • 2023

Estudos sobre sindicalismo rural no Brasil: transformações, permanências e os 60 anos da Contag


This work analyzes the field of studies on rural unionism in Brazil and is divided into two parts. In the first part, we examine key events and studies on the trajectory of rural unionism, with a focus on the experience of Contag. In doing so, we introduce the articles that make up this thematic section. We cover the following themes: dictatorship and transitional justice; local-level performance; multiplication of political subjects in the Brazilian rural context and union pluralism; land conflicts; family farming, public policies, and the relationship between unionism and the state; strengthening of minority groups within unionism. In the second part, we revisit some of the main theoretical perspectives that have marked union studies in Brazil. From this, we suggest incorporating new important approaches, especially in the last two decades, although in a preliminary synthesis that requires further exploration.

Marco Antonio Teixeira, Priscila Delgado de Carvalho

Working Paper Series

Working Paper 11 • 2024

Food Movements in Germany. Analysis of actors in the socio-ecological transformation of the food system


Around the world, social movements are protesting against the corporate food regime (Friedmann & McMichael, 1989), denouncing the injustices associated with its structural dynamics of neoliberal capitalism, patriarchal domination, racism, coloniality, epistemic violence, and anthropocentric exploitation (Motta, 2021b; Holt Giménez & Shattuck, 2011; Holt-Gimenez & Patel, 2012). Many food movements are calling for a socio-ecological transformation and creating alternative forms to produce, share, prepare, consume and dispose of food, based on relations of care, solidarity and respect. In their heterogeneity, they provide a good analytical lens to explore the multiple and intersectional dimensions of food inequalities denounced and the directions of change desired by organized movements from civil society (Motta, 2021a). But which are the food movements that mobilize for a socio-ecological transformation of food politics in Germany? What are the main dimensions and intersections of inequalities addressed by them?

Based on an explorative mapping, this research identifies relevant food movements in Germany, their discourses and agendas. It takes as units of analysis food movements organizations with considerable collective actions and participation in social mobilization on a national scale during the last 5 years (2018-2023). Using an analytical framework elaborated in dialogue with theoretical and conceptual works on food movements, food inequalities, and dynamics of transformation in the food regime, the empirical data is presented along the categories: types of movements and activist discourses, time of emergence, juridical form, dimensions of food inequalities addressed, categories of intersectional inequalities considered, spatial locus of action (urban/rural), phases of the food system, sphere of social change most frequently targeted by the food movements. Based on the data, the dynamics of transformations are discussed.

Applying a qualitative and quantitative methodology which combined content analysis and coding, the research results in a mapping of the actors (Mayring & Fenzl, 2019; Saldaña, 2021). This working paper aims to give a first overview of food activism in Germany by assessing the actors in this field of social mobilisation and analysing their emancipatory potentials and limits.

_ Keywords: Food movements, food inequalities, food justice, agrarian movements, Germany, socio-ecological transformation

Working Paper 1 • 2021

Food for Justice: Power, Politics, and Food Inequalities in a Bioeconomy Preliminary Research Program


The Junior Research Group Food for Justice examines normative questions of inequalities and justice, rights and democracy that arise in disputes surrounding the question “how are we going to feed the world?”. Increasingly, citizens perceive the global food system as part of the historical causes of the ecological crisis and the persisting hunger in the world. Although reasons for these causal links are long known (the use of food for profit, the gap between production and consumption, conflicts over land and water, exploitative labour relations, the energy matrix and waste generation, among others), research on food security and the bioeconomy tend to rely on the same, searching for technological fixes to a profit-oriented model exploiting living matter. What is needed to deepen the debate is more knowledge about which food system citizens desire, which solutions are already there to address the social concerns and how to redirect public policies towards a fair, democratic and sustainable food system. Combining theoretical perspectives on global entangled inequalities with social movement research, Food for Justice will look at challenges and solutions both in Europe (with a focus on Germany) and in Latin America (focusing on Brazil). The research consists of case studies of social mobilization targeting injustices in the food system and case studies of social technologies and political innovations, such as agroecology and alternative food networks. Food for Justice aims at providing a theoretical and conceptual framework, grounded on empirical research, to analyse social and political experimentations that address inequalities based on class, gender, race, ethnicity, rurality, citizenship, thus building fair, democratic and ecological food relations.

_ Keywords: food inequalities, bioeconomy, food justice, food security, food sovereignty, social movements

Working Paper 2 • 2021

Marcha das Margaridas 2019: alimentação, mobilização social e feminismos


This paper presents the data collected in the survey Marcha das Margaridas 2019: food, social mobilization and gender, whose objective was to understand the social composition and the perception of activists on these issues. The survey was conducted on August 13 and 14, 2019 in face-to-face (458) and self-administered form (1657) modalities. The Marcha das Margaridas is one of the case studies of the Food for Justice Research Group, which analyzes social mobilizations that counter injustices in food systems, as well as social and political innovations that confront multiple and intersectional inequalities such as class, gender, race, ethnicity and nationality, in the construction of just and ecological food systems.

_ Keywords: Marcha das Margaridas; movimentos sociais, feminismo, sistemas alimentares, survey research

Working Paper 3 • 2021

The Politics of Food. Mobilization, Consumer behavior and Motives of Participants of the Wir habe es satt! protest 2020


The large-scale protest Wir haben es satt! (We‘re fed up!), organized by the Meine Landwirtschaft (My Agriculture) coalition, has been held for ten years to mark the start of the Green Week agricultural fair in Berlin. The coalition advocates for sustainable agriculture and fair food production and supports farmers throughout Germany. On January 18, 2020, researchers from Freie Universität Berlin, in cooperation with the Institute für Protest- und Bewegungsforschung, conducted a comprehensive survey of participants in the Wir haben es satt! protest. The resulting data shed light on who the protesters are, their concerns and political attitudes, and, last but not least, how they support a different kind of agriculture through their own consumption and lifestyle choices. A large proportion of respondents identified themselves as female and classified themselves politically as left of center. The majority of respondents were representative of an older demographic. As with many protests in Germany, respondents represent a specific socio-economic segment of the population: two-thirds reported having a university degree and most reported a medium to high income. Above all, the protestors surveyed reported consistent political engagement. Many stated they were members of political organizations, experienced demonstrators, and familiar with the socio-political issues related to climate and environmental policy. In fact, less than two percent reported Wir Haben es satt! being their first protest. The respondents are mainly consumers. Very few respondents produce food for commercial purposes. This specific social group can be described as food conscious. They make ethical consumer decisions and have a great interest in expressing their own concerns. Here is to note, that it was not possible to survey the tractor convey attached to the protest by foot.

_ Keywords: Wir haben es satt, social mobilization, soziale Mobilisierung, Protestforschung, Agrar- und Ernährungswende, Ernährungsgerechtigkeit, Deutschland, food movement, protest survey, food justice, Germany

Working Paper 4 • 2022

Efeitos da pandemia na alimentação e na situação da segurança alimentar no Brasil


This working paper analyzes the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on food security and food consumption in Brazil. The data was collected between November and December 2020 through a public opinion survey conducted by telephone with a representative sample of the Brazilian population. This data collection was coordinated by the Research Group Food for Justice: Power, Politics and Food Inequalities in a Bioeconomy, of the Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), jointly with researchers from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) and the Universidade de Brasília (UnB). The results show that 59% of the inquired households are in a situation of food insecurity during the pandemic, and that a significant part of the respondents reduced the consumption of food items important for their regular diets; 44% reduced meat and 41% reduced fruit consumption. Thus, the data collected confirms the previous findings by the National Research for Sample of Domicile (Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílio) that indicated an increase in food insecurity in Brazil in the years 2017 and 2018 compared to the previous standards from 2013. In conclusion, the socioeconomic instabilities caused by the political and economic crises in recent years have worsened with the Covid-19 pandemic, reinforcing food inequalities for a large portion of the Brazilian population, especially regarding access to healthy food on a regular basis in a sufficient quantity and quality.

_ Keywords: Food security; Brazilian Food Insecurity Scale; Human right to adequate food; Covid-19; Pandemic; Public health; Public policies; Food inequalities

Working Paper 5 • 2021

How to harvest in a pandemic? The German media coverage of migrant workers and harvesting in the context of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has widely been discussed as a crisis that impacts daily life on a global scale, including food security, global supply chains, consumer behaviour and nutrition. In this crisis, providing food became an even more essential service, agricultural work became an essential activity, and with this, farm workers became so-called essential workers. In Germany, this topic was broadly taken up by local and national newspapers. Due to immense media interest during the first lockdown, the working conditions in the food sector and especially the marginalized status of farmworkers were rendered visible to a broader public. This paper analyses the discourses and how food production in times of the pandemic affects pre-existing workers‘ inequalities and lack of workers’ rights, revealing migrant workers as one of the most vulnerable groups in the German food system. It concludes by demonstrating that the mechanisms of Covid-19, which have been exacerbating existing inequalities in the food sector during the pandemic, are part of a structural socio-economic and socio-political crisis that must be regarded in the context of global capitalism and intersectional inequalities.

_ Keywords: Covid-19; Pandemic; Food Inequalities; Migrant Harvest Workers; Farmworkers; Agriculture; Food Production; Exploitative Working Conditions