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Pieta Savinotko: Small-scale food production engenders diverse interdependencies

Tampere University
LocationKalevantie 5, Tampere
Linna building, lecture hall K103 and via remote connection.
Date25.11.2022 10.00–14.00
Entrance feeFree of charge
Small-scale food production for domestic use or local markets is common in Finland. For instance, growing vegetables, mushroom picking, and beekeeping are meaningful activities for their practitioners, producing both livelihoods and wellbeing. At the same time, the everyday practices of food production are intense interaction among the people involved and between the human and non-human participants.

In their doctoral dissertation, M.Soc.Sc. Pieta Savinotko examines different forms of small-scale food production: community-based vegetable farming, beekeeping in urban areas, and household-centred mushroom picking. Using ethnographic methods, the study focuses on the everyday practices of food production, in which various relations are enacted between the actors involved.

“In the study, I understand the everyday practices and relations of food production as economic activity. Small-scale food production includes work, exchange, and multiple means of producing livelihoods and wellbeing,” explains Savinotko.

The research draws on the theoretical and methodological framework of diverse economies, which has its roots in feminist economic geography. The framework orients towards critical examination and reshaping of how the economy is enacted in material-discursive practices. In addition, the thesis utilises the feminist nature-cultural research tradition in analysing the relationship between the human and the non-human.

“From these starting points, I examine the economy as interdependencies both among people and between species. In food production, these multispecies interdependencies are visible and tangible,” Savinotko says.

Three of the four articles in the article-based thesis focus on the above-mentioned forms of food production. In the study, the interdependencies of small-scale food production emerge as diverse, situated, and complex, for example, in weeding practices of vegetable farming, or in mushroom picking which is located in landscapes shaped by plantation-like timber production. Analysing beekeeping in turn brings forth the uncertainties which define the relations between beekeepers and bees. The fourth article reflects on small-scale food production as part of a Nordic welfare state.

In addition to the empirical research on the everyday practices of food production, the study contributes to the theoretical and methodological discussions on diverse economies. As the result of the theoretical work, the research proposes 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 others.

“The concept enables approaching food production but also other economic activities as participation in the coexistence between people and species, and as involvement in the ethical troubles this coexistence entails,” Savinotko argues.

The doctoral thesis of M.Soc.Sc. Pieta Savinotko in the field of gender studies titled Omakätisen ruoantuotannon monilajiset taloudet will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Tampere University at 12 o’clock on Friday, 25 November 2022 in auditorium K103 of the Linna building (Kalevantie 5, Tampere). The Opponent will be Professor Tiina Silvasti from the University of Jyväskylä. The Custos will be Docent Marja Vehviläinen from the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The PhD thesis is available online. Two out of the four articles of the thesis are published in English while two articles and the extensive summary are in Finnish.

Photo: Siiri Savinotko