Contact Zones: Designing for More-than-Human Food Relations

Sebastian Prost, Irina Pavlovskaya, Kahina Meziant, Vasilis Vlachokyriakos, Clara Crivellaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Our food system is a socio-material, heterogeneous infrastructure whose complexity and interconnectedness often remains invisible to citizens. While moments of crisis expose the vulnerabilities and injustices underlying this system, this paper seeks to explore which processes and tools CSCW could purposely design to 'open up' food infrastructures and bring young and adult people in contact with different aspects of the food system to cultivate food citizenship from a more-than-human perspective. Through a collaboration with a local primary school and four different food organisations (a mushroom grower, a vegetable farm, a bread-baking community centre, and a food bank) in North East England, UK, we designed 'contact zones' that enabled a class of students aged 7 to 8 years to encounter socio-material food practices at each partnering organisation's site and in the classroom. Our insights show young people's rich engagement in the socio-materiality of place, food, and practices; how encountering food practices across very different sites helped surface the interconnectedness of the food system; and how the contact zones opened spaces to practice food citizenship. The paper offers design implications towards infrastructuring more-than-human food pedagogies. It discusses inherent power dynamics of more-than-human design collaborations, critically evaluates the role of technology in more-than-human relations, and presents three design opportunities towards a relational understanding of food.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3449121
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021


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