Hannah Wittman has worked with farmers for as long as she can remember. Our new Assistant Professor, Food, Nutrition and Health, grew up on a farm in Idaho, and has built her career on the social organization of small scale farming systems.
“My research looks at the services that small scale farmers provide in terms of community access to healthy food and an understanding of where food comes from,” she said. “I document the relationships between community, food and the environment and help to develop policies that support a more sustainable food system.”
Wittman, who holds a PhD in Development Sociology from Cornell University (2005), works with international groups, including La Via Campesina, an international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-scale farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. One of her long-term research projects involves the landless rural workers movement in Brazil. She spent several years in Paraguay working as an agro forestry extension agent working on soil conservation and agro forestry and subsistence food production.
“Two billion people – almost a third of world’s population – make a living from agriculture,” Wittman said. “Just over half of the world’s population live in rural areas and yet they have very little political power. Having a more democratic participation in the food system could lead to a more sustainable food system.”
Wittman is building an international research network on food sovereignty that’s producing some of the first academic research on the subject. She has also edited two books on food sovereignty and released a third book, Environment and Citizenship in Latin America: Natures, Subjects and Struggles, earlier this year.
Prior to joining LFS in July, Wittman held a faculty position in SFU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She is jointly appointed with UBC’s Institute for Resources and Environment and Sustainability, and teaches LFS 250 (Land, Food, Community).