Commoning and community, a meeting in Eindhoven

On the last day of May, blessed by the weather, WEGO mentor Chizu Sato and I, Nanako Nakamura, visited a farmhouse surrounded by woods and bush in the middle of fields on the outskirts of Eindhoven to discuss the role of surplus in community building and a transformative potential of commoning with a group of food design students from the Design Academy Eindhoven. We were invited by Arne Hendriks, who is an artist, researcher, and founder of the Harahachibu-University. When we got there, the seminar turned out to be in the open air, chickens and dogs running around. Some of the students are living the house and around the area, forming an inspiring permaculture community with their neighbors. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, they opened the farmhouse for collective learning to design food and imagine life in different ways.

The seminar started with eating home-made soup. It was made of ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits, and herbs, brought by students. These ingredients are surplus from their own households and cooking and eating together support the production and reproduction of a food commons. Chizu talked about surplus production, appropriation and distribution in the modern economy and how they are organized differently in capitalist and non-capitalist class processes. The discussions went into prevailing capitalist narratives in relation to planetary boundaries, gendered social relations, social justice, populism, media ethics, all of which influence our consumption choices and decisions in our everyday lives. Commons and its transformative process of commoning were also brought into the discussion as important frameworks to describe the creation of more sustainable and healthy communities.

As an example of commoning, I introduced a case from my research about women’s buckwheat (soba) cultivation on unused rice fields in rural Japan. Due to the political encouragement for rice supply reduction since the 1960s, rice cultivation has been remarkably declined in many rural areas. As a result, increased numbers of unused and abandoned spaces have raised concerns about deteriorating agroecosystem, biodiversity, and rural landscapes. In my case study, these dormant rice fields were utilized by the local women’s for buckwheat cultivation, to make locally produced soba noodles as means of rural revitalization and multi-species survival. This soba commoning demonstrates how these women are interacting with other community members, state actors, consumers, and non-human earth others, e.g., soba plants, rice, fields, surrounding environment, to live well in rural aging and depopulating context. Also, it highlights the process of making a socio-ecologically sustainable community, where physical and emotional struggles are entangled, and challenges are emerging from social, economic, political, climatic, gendered aspects of rural communities.

The seminar closed after sharing insights and challenges, such as finance, shared/unshared ideologies, and harmonization among community members even though we did not come to any conclusion. Sharing my case study and exchanging thoughts was a wonderful experience for me in these difficult times.

Post-credits scene: When we were about to leave, one student came to me and asked me a question whether I have watched Tampopo, the Japanese film. According to her, my talk reminded her of the film. Yes, it is perhaps comparable to my soba case because it depicts relational processes revolving around Ramen noodles in a constellation of relationships, conflicts, emotions of differences with unique human and non-human characters.

Registrations are open for ‘FPE Dialogues on Re-thinking Food’

Registrations are now open for our ‘Feminist Political Ecology Dialogues on Re-thinking Food’ on July 1st & 2nd at University of Passau. Register via the following link:

About Rethinking Food Passau

Food is essential to sustaining relational webs of life. Difficult times around the world have only further demonstrated this interdependence and the need to think differently about food systems. To attend to the question of what constitutes alternative agriculture and food practices, and why it is important, the “Feminist Political Ecology Dialogues on Re-thinking Food” has been organized by the University of Passau. It is part of a series of events organized by  WEGO-ITN. The two-day event will be held online on Zoom on the 1st and 2nd of July from 16:00 to 18:00 CEST. Since this is an international event, translation from English into German and Indonesian Bahasa will be provided.

Food production and supply has changed dramatically over the past few decades, contributing to unjust processes of production and distribution of food around the world. The global food industry is also closely interrelated with climate change. In addition, the homogenising effects of factory farming and monocultures mean that regional suppliers find it increasingly difficult to participate in food markets. These inter-related concerns make the need for alternative forms of agriculture and food consumption ever more visceral. The aim of the FPE Dialogues is to share insights from ongoing research projects and engagements with alternative food and economic practices in Indonesia, India and Germany; with the hope to stimulate conversation about what constitutes “alternative” agriculture or food consumption and why it matters.

The keynote speaker for the first day will be Dr Parto Teherani-Krönner. She will speak about her concept of ‘meal cultures’ and its relevance in re-thinking the multiple layers of food relations. We very much look forward to welcoming her to Passau via zoom, and hope to see some of you there.

Day 1
Dr Parto Teherani-Krönner on ‘Meal Cultures’
Followed by questions and discussion with the audience
16.00-18.00 CEST

Day 2
Roundtable on Re-thinking Food
Dimas Dwi Laksmana, Patrick Keilbart, Marlene Gómez Becerra, Siti Maimunah and Enid Still
16.00-18.00 CEST

Presenters will share perspectives from research on organic agriculture in Indonesia, community kitchens in Berlin, the relationship between food security and coal extraction in Indonesia and agricultural collectives in India.

The roundtable will then reflect with the audience on questions of inclusivity and the meaning of alternative in food systems.


Information provided by: Passau University

When resistance goes through the stomach

 In a recent interview in the daily newspaper “Tagesspiegel” I introduced WEGO to a public audience.

Extract in english

People who join such movements are concerned about the limited resources of nature and want to counter the powerful consumer society. But are there also hidden power structures in such ecologically conscious, alternative initiatives? When the private – getting groceries, preparing, eating – becomes public and something communal, does the classic division of roles change, for example between women and men? And do such initiatives lead to more social cohesion in a city? Gülay Çaglar, professor of political science with a focus on gender and diversity at the Free University of Berlin, is asking herself these questions with her team in a new research project.

Your project is embedded in the large European research network WEGO; the abbreviation stands for Well-being, Ecology, Gender and cOmmunity – well-being, ecology, gender and community. The aim is to support young doctoral students. Ten research institutes and universities in five EU countries award a total of 15 doctoral positions. The young scientists will be integrated into the structured research network, will take part in further training and will spend short research stays at one of the partner institutes within the network.

Read the full article (in german)

Food security summer studies in Italy

Food Security and Resilience 

Bolsena, 25 May – 5 June 2020 

Tulane University food security summer studies in Italy

Residential course (graduate, 3 credits) with full board accommodation, domestic transportation, and excursions. Limited places available for non-Tulane participants. Admissions end on 20 March 2020. 

Food and nutrition security through system thinking 

This course will examine the impacts of globalizing food systems on food and nutrition security at local, household, and intra-household levels. This topic is especially relevant now because of the increased policy attention and resources for programming that are focused on promoting improved food security, nutrition and sustainability 

This course will provide students with the analytical skills for identifying the elements of resilient food systems and the outcomes of food and nutrition security access to organizations prominent in international food security policy discussions, and a backaround in readings relative to this debate.

Specifically, the course analyzes global economic and political dynamics that continue to transform modern food systems and food habits. Stresses and strains that increasingly threaten the resilience of food systems such as climate change, transboundary pests and disease, price volatility and resource competition are identified and discussed.

Industrialized food systems are compared with each other as well as other food systems found around the world in order to explore the structures and relationships that produce resilience or system fragility. Throughout the course, special attention is given to the role of gender in policy, nutrition standards, and historical gender roles vis-à-vis food system resilience and food programs that allest lood and nutrition relations to nutritional outcomes. 

Field visits and case studies

The course is based in Italy, since the Rome-based food agencies of the United Nations provide an unparalleled opportunity for Students to meet and learn from the professionals who research, create normative guidance, and design and evaluate food programs that affect food and nutrition security throughout the world. The course will include thematic visits to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, Bioversity International, and the European Food Safety Agency. Speakers from other organizations (the United Nations World Food Programme, the University of Tuscia, and additional international non-governmental organizations will give lectures at the Bolsena Campus.

More information 


Tulane admissions:

Info on course and external admissions:,, 

More info on accomodation and logistic arrangements:,, 

Download the flyer

Great transformation: the future of modern companies

WEGO was in action in Jena, Germany at the Conference on Great Transformation: the future of modern companies which was held at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena from 23-27 September 2019

PhD Marlene Gómez Beccera presented her research work on Alternative food initiatives in Berlin and Barcelona.

Prof. Gülay Çağlar, part of the panel organizing team presented a paper on Sustainable consumption and food practices in Northern Europe and East Africa.

They presented their papers in the panel: Experiences of degrowth practices based on care for humans and the more-than-human world.

Conference programme (in German only): Hauptprogramm zur Konferenz Great Transformation 

Registration form (in German only) Info_Kauf Tageskarten im Vorfeld


Diverse economies & arts based methods workshop

Wilding at a farm in Wageningen.

A group of fellow thinkers and travellers got together from 8-10 July 2019 for a workshop in Wageningen. They discussed their work as it relates to diverse economies and arts-based methods. Among them were WEGO members Chizu Sato, Wendy Harcourt and Nanako Nakamura. The workshop was held at the Centre for Space, Place and Society.

Wendy introducing the exhibition.

The workshop closed with a public art exhibition on  Other (food) + (art) economies are possible! where the group shared some of their individual and collective work in a convivial space with food and drinks and with time for chats with the wider public.

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All photos by Wendy Harcourt