Eating has become a provocative and political element of urban contestation. Through food, publics are effectively (re)defined and urban futures popularly (re)imagined. As cities transform, the ways that people eat and procure food also change, along with the sociocultural meanings of food itself. This panel will explore the relationships between these contemporary urban processes and changing food habits. These shifting patterns of consumption and production can be linked to a variety of intertwined processes at global and urban scales — from cycles of de-industrialization and gentrification in the global north to the rapidly urbanizing megacities of the developing world. Food studies scholars have noted the impact of such urban transformations on diets, from the (post)Fordist homogenization of industrially produced food to the highly differentiated food landscapes of today’s gentrified cities.
In response, urban publics and counterpublics are reimagining — and being reimagined through — the circulation of food and dietary discourse that draws upon a range of sources from urban agriculture and farmer’s markets to the role of grocery stores and restaurants. Food also provides a significant public idiom for policies that address or entrench urban inequality, from “food deserts” to feeding prohibitions. Food even renders the contemporary city’s global connections “good to think” for urban dwellers: dependent on producers they do not know and rarely see, fearful about how and where their food is produced — and where it will come from in the future – consumers circulate a host of new discourses about whole, local, organic and sustainable foods.
Panelists will pursue several questions in order to understand how food remakes the city and vice-versa: Who has access to food and who does not? How do people come to understand their place in the urban social order through their food practices — particularly amid the urban manifestations of global political-economic restructuring and cultural change? How do the politics of food figure in the transformation of urban spaces? What roles do immigration and migratory foodways play in shaping modern urban life? What of the proliferation of ever more extravagant restaurants and eating experiences for the wealthy alongside ever worsening rates of poverty, hunger and ill-health for the poor? Above all, we ask, how are processes related to eating and urban transformation intertwined?
Abstracts should be submitted by March 1 to Maggie Dickinson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Note from the editor: If you are organizing a food/nutrition related panel for the AAA meetings this year–or, really, for any conference–we would be happy to post it here at FoodAnthropology. Just send it along to email@example.com we will take care of it.