STRINGS Conference

Welcome to the STRINGS International Conference  

Selling the Rural in Urban Areas - the role of Local Food Products in the Sustainable Development of Rural Areas 

July 14-15, 2022 - University of Aveiro, Portugal 

An Online Conference (via Zoom)

NEW Submission Deadline: structured abstract (around 600 words) - April 30th, 2022 

Conference Main Themes and Topics 

Local and traditional food products have been attracting the interest of consumers, retailers, and producers, as well as the attention of politicians and academics in different research fields (e.g., agriculture, geography, sociology, anthropology, food studies, tourism). This relatively recent focus is related to the potential that local food may have in the revitalization of agriculture and rural territories, enhancing the attractiveness of specific areas of origin and developing tourism. There is also an increasing European Union policy support to produce local and traditional foods, through several certification schemes and labels designed for their preservation, differentiation, and a better understanding of their specific character and features strongly embedded in their places of origin. These features are also known to meet contemporary consumers' demand for more sustainable, healthier, and quality foodstuffs in contrast with massified agri-industrial production.

Following these dynamics, more recently, we have witnessed a growing number of specialty (and/ or gourmet) stores dedicated to the commercialization of local and traditional foods (certified or not) within urban centers, especially in cities where tourism influxes have also grown in recent decades. These stores, as well as other selling venues of those products within urban centers, may contribute to foster the interest and knowledge of consumers and act as showcases, both for urban inhabitants and tourists, of the territories of origin, the particular ways of production and preparation, as well as of the material and symbolic features of local, regional and national food identities, hence contributing to their preservation and value

This International Conference follows a four-year research project - STRINGS - Selling The Rural IN (urban) Gourmet Stores - establishing new liaisons between town and country through the sale and consumption of rural products, coordinated by the University of Aveiro, Portugal (in collaboration with the Instituto de Ciências Sociais (co-PI) and the Instituto de Geografia e Ordenamento do Território from the University of Lisbon and the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro), but brings together speakers and ideas from around the world, intending to stimulate enthusiastic and interesting debates amongst all the interested participants.

We welcome and encourage the presentation of theoretical and empirical contributions from different fields of research, that may advance knowledge and understanding of the role of local and traditional food products in rural territories and agriculture sustainable development, using inter and multidisciplinary perspectives, diverse methodologies and case studies. We invite contributions on - among others - the following main themes:

  • Understanding local and traditional food products: meanings, values, and features;
  • Understanding urban entrepreneurship around local and traditional food products, motivations, connections, representations of different types of retailing;
  • Analyzing consumers' interest in local and traditional food products: motivations, determinants of choice, values, representations, and practices;
  • Analyzing ethnocentrism and nationalism as determinants of consumers choices and public policies of preservation and labelling;
  • Local and traditional food products marketing and promotional strategies, including the potential of new media and social networks;
  • Certification labels and their impacts in the production, commercialization, and consumption of local and traditional food products, including in the places of origin;
  • Local and traditional food products' production commercialization and consumption in times of crises (e.g. climate, economic, pandemic, wars, food safety scares): ruptures and reconfigurations, impacts on long and short food supply chains and consumers' food practices;
  • Building territorial cohesion and cultural bridges through the commercialization of rural products: between rural and urban territories, different regions and countries, diverse cultures;
  • The effects of climate change on local food production and consumption;
  • Spatial analysis and georeferencing of (national) food production routes: innovations and challenges;
  • Analyzing the changing landscapes of food consumption: the return of traditional and sustainable products and the role of shorter supply chains;
  • Rethinking public policies and incentives regarding local and traditional agricultural productions and development;
  • From the 'power to design' to the (transformative) 'power to delivery - the challenges of the insertion of local networks of production, consumption and distribution in public policies of rural development;
  • Food and Tourism: contributions of food to rural tourism destinations' attractiveness and development; the role of local food in tourism experiences.