UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"We just wanna warm some bellies" : Food Not Bombs, anarchism, and recycling wasted food for protest Fessenden, Sarah Grace


Within and against neoliberal systems Food Not Bombs serves hope. Food Not Bombs is a global anarchist-inspired (dis)organization that protests war—among other things—by giving away food for free. This dissertation is an ethnography about Food Not Bombs generally and the Vancouver chapter of Food Not Bombs in particular. It contributes to anthropologies of resistance, specifically those kinds of resistance practiced by Food Not Bombs and alter-globalization activists. Since Food Not Bombs offers a unique perspective on issues such as food-waste and hunger, I follow Food Not Bombs both in its critique of contemporary social life and in its production of alternative cultural forms. I begin by introducing the concepts direct action project and social movement (dis)organization to conceptually locate Food Not Bombs and groups like it. What is unique about direct action projects is that they explicitly weave together critique and hope; in other words, critique and hope are immanent in their direct action tactics. The manner of the critique itself (i.e. direct action) alleviates some of these harsh experiences of life under neoliberalism and, simultaneously, imagines/creates alternative cultural forms. Working with(in) global justice and alter-globalization movements, Food Not Bombs is a social movement (dis)organization, incorporating anarchistic logics and values to protest movements. Working in the interstices of capitalism, Food Not Bombs recovers wasted food, prepares it in collective kitchens using non-hierarchical organization, and serves it for free to anyone in want or need of it in public spaces. “We just wanna warm some bellies” not just in the moment but in such a way as to prefigure a world where people could freely feed themselves and help their neighbors do the same. Appadurai (2013) suggests a politics wherein we do not end with critique but with enacting a new vision for the future in the present. In this dissertation I describe Food Not Bombs as a direct action project that does the work of hope in the present by exploiting the cracks in capitalism and creatively producing new cultural forms as well as cooking up some food to share. In other words, “punk rock DIY belly feeding.”

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