On the 2nd and 3rd of March, SIMRA’s team from the University of Padova participated in the 12th edition of the conference “Fragile rural areas”, held in Rovigo, Italy. This years’ theme was “Abnormal Exchanges. The nested markets for rural fragile areas”.
“Nested” markets are, according to Jan Douwe van der Ploeg’s definition, markets that have less to do with globalised systems of exchange, and more with exchanges in real meeting places. Van der Ploeg has long studied the phenomenon, coining the concept of “nested” markets, and was invited to give the opening speech at the conference. He emphasised the multi-level nature of such exchanges, pointing out that “nested” markets are markets animated by ethical and social values, related to the quality of products, human relationships, the development of the territory and environmental protection. In his view, nested markets are a segment of a larger market that emerges from economic as well as social and political motives, and presents peculiarities such as unique infrastructure, with an aim to transform the global system. The way in which he characterises “nested” markets closely relates to the topics at the core of SIMRA.
During the two-day conference, researchers and practitioners from different parts of Italy presented and discussed more than 50 case studies related to the theme of “nested” markets as ‘abnormal’ forms of exchange. The cases ranged from the north to the south of Italy, dealing with rural as well as urban areas. Specific sub-calls were open for food and migrants. The panels covered topics ranging from trade (international markets and complementary currencies), to social exchanges in the agri-food sector (alternative food networks for cities, networks in mountain areas, community-based co-operatives and community-based social farming). Parallel sessions also dealt with cases on mobility, resistances and civil society involvement, migrants and refugees, international cases of corporate social responsibility and nested tourism. The rich variety of interventions overcame unexpected inconveniences. Due to adverse weather conditions, a few of the submitted papers were not presented as several people were prevented from attending the conference. Despite this, the overall attendance was remarkable, with the presence of more than 100 people from the most diverse worlds – activists, practitioners, researchers, etc.
Participating in such events does not only give the possibility to share experiences and raise awareness on specific topics, but further gives the opportunity to get to know people that are active on the territory, and build networks with actors that are able to build important “nested” relations and forms of exchange in Italy and at higher levels.
It was a great opportunity to get an understanding of what is taking place on the ground at a national scale and to connect with projects that are particularly significant for SIMRA and can be included in the database of social innovation examples. Finally, a big hope is for opportunities like this to help prevent these realities from remaining small and niche experiences, and to instead support their reproduction in other places, depending on local specificities.
The presentation of Università di Padova’s about SIMRA is available here.
For further information on the conference visit http://www.areefragili.it/