Martha McMahon

Martha McMahon
Associate Professor
Office: COR A330

PhD (McMaster, 1992)

Area of expertise

Environmental sociology

Martha McMahon’s current research interests lie in the area of food, farming, agri-food governance, food sovereignty, gender and food security, environmental sociology and feminist analysis, including ecological feminism.

She is currently investigating survival and other strategies local farmers use to make their farming work under challenging circumstances. She is also studying the relationship between changing public and private agri-food governance and the possibilities for alternative food networks. Her current research focus is on gender and environment, small-scale farming and local food.

While attending to social processes such as globalization, international trade and regulatory regimes, she describes her approach to sociology as critically reflective symbolic interactionism. This approach takes both actors' meanings and social constraints as being central in explaining social life. Thus, in doing sociology, she examines how social relationships, including those with the non-human world are reproduced, negotiated and transformed in the everyday meaningful interactions of people whether in bureaucracies, on farms, in their homes or in the courts or grocery stores.

Her book, Engendering Motherhood was awarded the 1996 American Sociological Association Sex and Gender Section Award for Distinguished Scholarship on Gender. She has been named as one of the most popular professors at UVic by Maclean's Magazine Report on Universities (2003 to 2006). Her current publications include pieces on gender and food security (2012), women organic farmers (2012) and food sovereignty (2012).

Students who work with Martha will have the opportunity to work on issues of local food and society including local food, environment, gender and food security, food sovereignty, animal welfare and social justice issues and ecological feminist projects and also to be involved with local food and farming organization.


  • Food, agriculture and the local
  • Agri-food governance
  • Food sovereignty and food security
  • Feminist analysis
  • Ecological feminism
  • Environmental sociology

Selected publications

Books and chapters

2012. McMahon, Martha. Food sovereignty or alternative consumer sovereignty in Food Sovereignty edited by Andree, Ayres, Bosnia. University of Toronto Press, forthcoming in 2012

2012. McMahon, Martha“ Alternatives to globalization: women small scale farmers and local food systems” , in Women in a Globalizing World: Equality, Development, Peace and Diversity, edited by Angela Miles. Toronto, Ontario:, Inanna Publications Inc. (in press)

McMahon, M. 1995. Engendering Motherhood: Identity and Self-Transformation in Women's Lives. New York: Guilford.

McMahon, Martha. 2004. People for Pigs in Pleasure-Land. In Elusive Land, C. Sandilands and R. Raglon (eds). Vancouver: UBC Press, 198-218.

Refereed articles

2012. McMahon, M and Fatima Johra. Gender and food security. Women and Environments 88/89: 2-6

2011. McMahon, Martha. Standard Fare or Fairer Standards: Feminist reflections on agri-food governance. Journal of Agriculture and Human Values Vol. 28(3): 401-412.

McMahon, M. 2005. "Engendering Organic Farming". Feminist Economics 11(3): 134-140.

McMahon, M. & E. Pence. 2003. "Making Social Change: Reflections on Individual and Institutional Advocacy with Women Arrested for Domestic Violence". Journal of Violence Against Women Vol. 9, no.1, pp. 47-74.

McMahon, M. 2002. "Resisting Globalization: Women Organic Farmers and Local Food Systems." Canadian Woman Studies Vol. 21/22, no. 4.1, pp. 203-206.