The Justice Of Eating In The City

In his trilogy, The Principle of Hope, Ernest Bloch (1986:11) suggests that "Hunger, the main drive, must be worked out, and the way it proceeds to the rejection of deprivation, that is, to the most important expectant emotion: hope. A central task in this part is the discovery and unmistakable notation of the 'Not- Yet-Conscious'." So while hunger is the most fundamental impediment to the production of human history, new forms of knowledge, understanding, and political will must be realized in order to collectively reject the social production of hunger. The emphasis on excavating the power relations that fuse the "interwoven knots of social process, material metabolism and spatial form that go into the formation of contemporary urban socionatural landscapes" (Swyngedouw and Heynen 2003:906) are explicitly engaged within Marxist urban political ecology in order to articulate who benefits and who suffers from local urban environmental metabolization. Through this critical lens, we seek to recognize the "Not-Yet-Conscious" Bloch referred to.

Through recognizing these relations inherent to the political ecology of urban hunger, we can begin to, as Harvey (1973) suggests, "confront the forces that create cities as alien environments that push urbanization in directions alien to our individual or collective purpose". The emergence of urban "food justice" as a notion within grassroots organizations, the popular press and academia is beginning to link food insecurity with other race/income/justice issues and bringing increased attention to what has been a largely unpopular and largely ignored issue within the US. The interconnectedness of necessity, desire and political will can still culminate in a Utopian political ecology capable of thinking beyond the current unjust metabolic fusion of nature and society within the context of contemporary capitalism. However, this again must be explicitly connected to sensual bodily interaction with the world. Related to this, Harvey (1998:405) suggests:

And While Marx's theorizing in Capital is often read (incorrectly as I shall hope to show) as a pessimistic account of how bodies, constructed as passive entities occupying particular performative economic roles, are shaped by external forces of capital circulation and accumulation, it is precisely this analysis that informs his other accounts of how transformative processes of human resistance, desire for reform, rebellion and revolution can and do occur.

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