Media coverage: “Keeping Palestinian food culture alive,” by Philip Cox

Aisha Azzam examines harvested wheat near Baqa’a refugee camp, Jordan. Credit: Guochen Wang

The Four Stories project's documentary about Palestinian miller Aisha Azzam has been featured in a recent article by Philip Cox. Check out the short excerpt below, and be sure to read the the full article at!

"It's a late spring day in the Baqa'a refugee camp, home to some 105,000 Palestinians who were born into the overcrowded Jordanian district or settled there after being displaced from their homelands by the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. After months without rain, the days are long, hot and dry.

Within the rejuvenating shade of one of the region’s only stone grain mills, UVic historian Elizabeth Vibert, writing master’s student Guochen Wang, history master’s graduate Salam Guenette and a crew of local teammates are filming an interview with owner-operator Aisha Azzam for a documentary they are producing as part of the Four Stories About Food Sovereignty project—a UVic-led, transnational effort to document community responses to climate change, global economic pressures and political instability through the lens of small-scale food producers on four continents.

'For Palestinian food not to go extinct, the young have to learn from the old,' Aisha explains in Arabic for the camera while three of her grandchildren play near the mill’s wearied industrial equipment. 'Food is the most precious part of Palestinian heritage.'"

New research on rural food systems in Colombia

Four Stories researcher Natalia Giraldo Osorio has successfully completed her research on rural Colombian food systems at the Universidad de Antioquia, and her findings are now available. We thank Natalia for her fantastic contributions to Food Sovereignty research, and encourage everyone interested in rural food systems to check out her work! You can also find a slideshow Natalia made at

Title: El territorio visto como una colcha de retazos: Transiciones de la Ruralidad y los Sistemas Alimentarios en el municipio de El Carmen de Viboral.

Abstract: In this degree work I make an ethnographic description of the transformations of rurality in the municipality of El Carmen de Viboral and its repercussions on the food system. The methodology used in this study was an intimate ethnography, where I carried out life stories and interviews with my relatives, friends, and close acquaintances, complemented with territorial tours, archive review, participant observation, a visual field diary, embroidered cartographies and maps of food routes. I found through this thesis that the great changes that, since the mid-twentieth century, have been taking place in the municipality have generated unprecedented transformations for food systems and rurality, where both phenomena influence and have mutual repercussions. In the same way, rurality today, together with food systems, cannot be seen through dichotomous contrasts; rather they are permeated by an amalgam of dynamics, appropriations and actors that, like a patchwork quilt, configure the territory in more complex and diverse ways every day.
Keywords: Rurality, Food Systems, Transitions, Intimate Ethnography, El Carmen de Viboral

Resumen: En este trabajo de grado hago una descripción etnográfica de las transformaciones de la ruralidad en el municipio de El Carmen de Viboral y sus repercusiones en el sistema alimentario. La metodología empleada en este estudio fue una etnografía íntima donde realicé historias de vida y entrevistas a mis familiares, amigos, cercanos y conocidos, complementada con recorridos territoriales, revisión de archivo, observación participante, un diario de campo visual, cartografías bordadas y mapas de las rutas de los alimentos. Encontré a través de esta tesis que los grandes cambios que, desde mediados del siglo XX, se vienen gestando en el municipio han generado transformaciones sin precedentes para los sistemas alimentarios y para la ruralidad, donde ambos fenómenos se influyen y repercuten mutuamente. De igual forma, la ruralidad en la actualidad, junto a los sistemas alimentarios, no se pueden ver desde contrastes dicotómicos, más bien están permeados por una amalgama de dinámicas, apropiaciones y actores que como una colcha de retazos van configurando el territorio de forma más compleja y diversa cada día.
Palabras clave: Ruralidad, Sistemas Alimentarios, Transiciones, Etnografía íntima, El Carmen de Viboral

Download here: Natalia Osorio, El territorio visto como una colcha de retazos

Documentary: The Thinking Garden

A film telling the inspiring story of South African women seeking food justice

This is a film about resilience – three generations of older women in a village in South Africa who came together in the dying days of apartheid to create a community garden. In the midst of severe drought and political turmoil, older women with limited access to land and little political voice joined together, beyond the household, beyond their kin, to make something new. They named their garden Hleketani – “thinking” in the local xiTsonga language – a place where women gather to think about how to effect change. The garden provides affordable vegetables to local people, nourishes those living with HIV/AIDS, and offers land, community, and opportunity for women. In short, the garden has helped restore the lives of people pushed to the edge. Filmed against the backdrop of a new drought gripping southern Africa, The Thinking Garden tells the remarkable story of what can happen when older women take matters into their own hands, and shows how local action in food production can give even the most vulnerable people a measure of control over their food and their futures.

More information on the Hleketani Garden can be found at Dr. Elizabeth Vibert's website,

Dr. Elizabeth Vibert: “Apartheid, Dispossession and Legacies in Jopi Village, South Africa”

As part of a lecture series on Decolonizing Settler Societies, Dr. Vibert gives a presentation on the history of apartheid and dispossession in Jopi Village, South Africa and the lasting legacies from that history.

*This lecture was originally presented to an undergraduate seminar class in the History Department at the University of Victoria

La Guajira food and climate virtual museum

A fantastic virtual museum dedicated to food and climate issues in La Guajira has been created by Dejusticia, a Colombia-based research and advocacy organization. The museum displays a series of beautiful artwork which, in their own words, "shows one of our crudest realities: the constant violation of the fundamental rights of the largest indigenous people in Colombia and Venezuela."

Visit the museum at and explore the gallery!

The virtual tour culminates in Dejustica's five recommendations to address the food and climate emergency. Make sure to check it out!