Tag Archives: food studies

Food and Work in the Americas

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Sent to us by Steve Striffler (Anthropology, University of New Orleans):

Food and Work in the Americas, a special issue of Labor: Studies in Working-Class History in the Americas, edited by Susan Levine and Steve Striffler, Volume 12 Nos. 1-2  May 2015

From the introduction:

Food studies is now a large and important field of research for scholars, journalists, activists, and others who have become increasingly interested in the history, culture, and politics of food. A sizable literature has emerged in the last two decades, largely from social scientists, which explores food from a multiplicity of angles, including foodways and identity, agricultural policy, the industrialization of food, nutrition, the body, commodity chains, alternative food systems, and globalization. Interestingly, however, very little of this recent work has taken a historical look at food and agriculture as sites of work. Workers remain marginalized in general, and historical treatments of labor and workplaces are even less common.

Labor historians, by contrast, have long considered food-related work sites. Classic studies of meatpacking occupy a central place within broader discussions of industrialization. An even larger literature has explored the variety of work and workers on farms, plantations, ranches, and haciendas throughout the Americas, shaping how we understand agrarian life and capitalist transitions. More recently, labor historians and others have moved further from agricultural production, beyond the farm or processing plant and into (food-related) domestic and service sector work sites. Yet, for the most part, these studies do not engage with food itself, in a broader sense, as a critical element in class, gender, ethnic, or racial life.

Our aim in this special issue of Labor is to challenge labor historians to think about food and work in ways that not only include the production of food itself, but the production and reproduction of working class life. We are interested in the work of food, its central location within the broader fabric of working class life, and the relationship between the two, but also in the connections between the production of food, the reproduction of working people, and the very nature and trajectory of capitalism itself.

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Filed under anthropology, food policy, Food Studies, history, labor, work

Raising the Bar for Introductory Classes: Susan Rodgers on Challenging and Changing Students through “Food, Body, Power”

Lauren Moore
University of Kentucky

Welcome to the inaugural interview of SAFN’s new Food Pedagogy Interview Series. Each month, we will feature a food scholar who teaches a course related to food or nutrition. They will share tips, tricks, and cautionary tales from their classrooms. If you would like to participate, or would like to nominate an excellent instructor for the interview series, please email LaurenRMoore@uky.edu.

2015 kicks off with an interview with Susan Rodgers, Professor of Anthropology at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Rodgers was the 2013 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching/CASE Massachusetts Professor of the Year. Though Rodgers’ own work focuses on the politics of art and literature in Indonesia, she has developed a challenging and provocative food class for first and second year students at her college. She speaks here about the course, successful components and cautionary tales, and why anthropologists should have high expectations for introductory classes.

SAFN members can access the syllabus Dr. Rodgers discusses here through the SNAC 4 resource page.

Lauren R. Moore: Can you tell me a little about how this course got started?

Susan Rodgers:  First of all, I’m not an anthropologist of food. My work and publications are on very different things. I’ve worked with the Angkola Batak people of Indonesia since the mid 1970s on issues of the politics of print literature, and minority arts in Indonesia in general.

I came to Holy Cross to help the school set up a new anthropology program in 1989, after teaching at Ohio University for 11 years. About 7 years ago, the college made me the Garrity Chair, which is a rotating, endowed professorship [during which] you have to design a brand-new course that speaks to issues that the Garrity family was interested in—social justice issues, basically, and fine liberal arts teaching with challenging texts. At the time, I was using a lot of Paul Farmer’s work in a freshman seminar. I was really impressed by how well Paul Farmer’s work teaches to first and second year students, so I decided to create this Food, Body, Power course. It’s an anthro of food course, but undergirded very explicitly with Paul Farmer’s understanding of the structural violence of poverty.

I ask students to read Farmer pretty seriously and then see if his understanding of structural violence can be applied to issues of food insecurity both domestically and worldwide. He himself hasn’t done that yet to any extent. But I imported the theory from Paul Farmer, and based the course around that. So that’s the origin of Food, Body, Power. I had taught a more broad-based Anthro of Food course for several years before this, but Food, Body, Power is an offshoot.

LRM:  One of the things that drew me to this syllabus in the SAFN materials was how you’re really tackling complex topics and serious readings in a 100-level class. Does the institutional context at Holy Cross relate to the kind of syllabus you’ve created?

SR: Holy Cross very much makes it possible. Holy Cross is a small, highly selective, liberal arts college. We’re like Vassar and Bates and Williams and Amherst…that range. We do get, in general, very, very good students who expect to work hard. So it doesn’t shake them up when they see, for instance, 5 monographs and a whole bunch of journal articles in an Anthro 101 syllabus. That’s kind of the Holy Cross thing.

But, maybe because of my 11 years teaching at Ohio University, I feel that at almost any four-year institution, we can take our first and second year students very seriously, and pitch a course like this to them. I think they rise to the occasion.

You know, in philosophy, the professors are asking their first year students to read very tough material. They don’t flinch from that. When students take a chemistry course, they’re asked to do some pretty challenging thought-work. So, I feel that this has some translatability.

The difference, if I was teaching back at OU, is the size of a class. Here, our 100-level courses are either capped at 25 or at 19. And of course you can ask the students to write a lot more if you’ve got a class of that size versus teaching to 50 or 75 students or even more. The professor could die grading papers. This is a pretty writing intensive course, as most of mine tend to be. If I was teaching it to a larger class—above 25—I would have to scale down the amount of writing that students do. But some aspects of the current version I think would work really well at any institution.

LRM: Weeks 12 through 14, I see they’re doing group presentations. Can you tell me about those?

I always like to have students do teamwork as they go through the course. First of all, there’s four weeks of a condensed anthro of food course at the beginning. They read many chapters from C. Counihan and P. Van Esterik’s Food and Culture anthology. Then they read Paul Farmer, and then Sidney Mintz’s Sweetness and Power, and Psyche Williams-Forson’s Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs. So, they’ve already done some pretty heavy-duty things. Then, we have a section where I ask them to apply what they’ve learned, à la structural violence and so on, to issues of famine. All the way through the course they’ve been divided into 5-person teams. I have little assignments that they’ll do. After they’ve done all of that, writing essays and essay tests all along, I have those teams really do something, in terms of producing knowledge for the whole class.

They have to meet, pick a serious food insecurity issue from outside the United States, research it together, and then put together a 25-minute lecture on their selected issue. For instance, child stunting in India: what causes it? After they’ve done that lecture, they take that same critical lens and work together in their teams to identify, address, and lecture again on a food insecurity issue in Massachusetts that also has relevance for Worcester. And that’s at the end of the course.

And that, I think, could be translated to almost any institution, because students just thrive when they’re asked to do teamwork…but not just to do it, but to actually lecture in the class. One thing that makes this helpful is our reference librarian, who runs a 50-minute class for us in the computer-assisted classroom about how to find sources. So, I know they’re armed with the ability to find good sources. As a follow up to these lectures, each student picks a paper topic that has been generated by their team reports, and then they (individually) write a 7-page paper on that.

LRM: Can you give an example of a memorable project?

SR: For some reason, one whole class was fascinated with South Sudan. One of the teams did a really good job looking at basic infrastructure problems in the country, like transferring food from one city to another. That team had a couple of economics majors, and they were able to bring their expertise to the class lecture, which was trying to explain why food insecurity is so dire in Sudan. From our readings, they were already alerted to the problem of how warfare violence can lead to famine, so they brought that in.

LRM: Do they also get excited about the local topics?

SR: One thing I’ve done is ask the Executive Director of the Worcester County Food Bank to come to class and lecture about food insecurity in Worcester County. South Worcester, right down our hill, is one of the most seriously impoverished parts of Worcester. I mentioned it might be something they could look at. That sparked their interest.

One small group last spring did such a good job! They decided to see how food, in a very generic sense, was portrayed in two quite contrastive high schools. One was in a fairly impoverished part of Worcester, and they also picked the public high school in Weston, MA—do you know about Weston?—it’s so prosperous. It’s one of the most over-the-top wealthy parts of Massachusetts. They did it as an experiment. They wanted to see what the school websites told us about food.

In the Weston public high school, oh my goodness. They had a cafeteria that was basically like an organic cafe. It would provide all these different, extremely interesting, sometimes even literally organic meals; very internationalized, sophisticated cuisine; guides for parents as to how to encourage their sons and daughters to eat healthful food and everything. It was a very elaborate, upper middle class take on healthy food and why it’s good for us.

Then, the students were able to contrast that with the almost blank information about food—and relatively little outreach to the parents—in the particular public high school in Worcester. They were also able to follow the weekly menus and look at the tater tots versus the kale salads and so on in the two contrastive high schools. That was really eye opening for the class, I think. We could discuss issues of class privilege and worldview and class-shaped “taste,” in the Q and A part of the students’ lecture.

LRMHave you had things that haven’t gone as well, that you’ve elected not to do again? Do you have any cautionary tales that have come out of this course?

SR: There is one cautionary tale I could pull from my experience. When I taught the old version of this course, the more generic Anthropology of Food course, I took one class period (of a 3 days/week class), and met outside the classroom, and together we walked down the hill into south Worcester. I asked them to walk around this little strip mall, with a Wendy’s hamburger joint, a cigar shop that has a few vegetables and a lot of snack foods, and a very cheap Chinese restaurant. I asked students to walk around for 40 minutes with a field notebook, and observe the food scene. The next class period, two days later, we talked about it.

That kind of fell flat because the students really needed more background on Worcester before that would make sense to them. I think in theory it was a great exercise, but we just can’t assume that they really know much about the local community in terms of SES and class and history.

It’s very important, if you’re going to understand the food scene down at the bottom of our hill, you’ve got to understand the history of the Irish American immigration to that very spot, and the movement of the Irish Americans out to the suburbs, and the ethnic composition and poverty issues now in that area. I hadn’t told them much about that. If I were to bring that back, I would really nest it within a couple lectures—and maybe students’ own web investigations—on Worcester and social class.

LRM: That’s a good point. One of the things I’ve found when talking about food with students, it can easily devolve into class-based stereotypes or normative judgments. I wonder if that’s something you face or if you have any strategies for overcoming it?

SR: I think probably anybody who teaches almost any topic in anthropology encounters this. One of the ways I deal with this is with the readings during the first four weeks of class. For example, this article makes such a hit. It’s really tough, and as the teacher you really have to walk through it point by point, but Alice Julier’s wonderful article, “The Political Economy of Obesity: The Fat Pay All,” really makes students think about their own social class positionality.

What Julier ends up saying is that obesity works for the elite in America. It provides us a population of workers who the upper-middle class can look down on, make fun of, and underpay. Obesity also works in a sense of blaming and shaming people who aren’t at fault for their problems of overweight. They should be dealt with as people who are being victimized by the social structure, but the way pop culture works is that we can’t see those social structure dimensions, and we look at the personal and think it’s psychological.

Julier sets all that out, and then I take a whole 50-minute period to discuss that one article after the students have read it carefully with reader’s guides—I always give them a reader’s guide. Then, we can talk about social class, and food overabundance, and body and power. Certain of the articles I use in the first four weeks, introducing the topic of anthro of food, can serve that purpose of making the students aware of social class dimensions to food production and consumption, and then they carry that through the whole course.

LRM: You said you give reader’s guides. Can you tell me a little bit about those?

SR: I’ve found that students need a little guidance before they plunge into a tough article or book. It makes them more serious readers if they have a list of say, 5 dimensions of a chapter to look at beforehand. So, using Julier’s article, it would be something like “What does Julier want us to understand about how social class operates in America?” I don’t want to overdetermine what they look at. Not simply asking them to summarize an aspect of a text, but having a question that kind of comes at them a little bit at a slant, that the author himself or herself would be able to answer.

A lot of my colleagues in this department have found that, if you give the students a reader’s guide before they dive into reading an assignment, it makes for much better class discussion. Also, they sort of need it. When I was in college, I don’t think any of my professors gave me a reader’s guide, but I find that students appreciate some guidance from the professor. They need a bit of help, kind of a map. You really want to ask them provocative questions that are kind of fun to think about, so there’s a technique to writing reader’s guides.

LRM: It sounds like reader’s guides are something you do in a lot of your classes. I wonder if there’s anything you do when teaching a food-related course that differs from the way that you approach other, non-food courses?

SR: One thing I probably do more in my food course than I do in my other range of 100- and 200-level courses that seems to work well, is when there’s a really interesting article in the morning New York Times or in the Washington Post or any serious newspaper, I’ll pull off a copy. And I’ll actually make a photocopy of it for every student in the class. I pick out really well-written current stories related to the topic of that day’s lecture, and I’ll actually ask them to take 10 minutes in class and sit there and read it silently to themselves, and then relate it to the chapter or the article that we’re dealing with on the syllabus that day. That seems to really interest them a lot. Then they go out and begin to be more serious newspaper readers themselves, which is an important lesson.

There’s another thing that’s distinctive to Food, Body, Power that works really well in the food class: autobiographical reflections. When I teach Anne Allison‘s wonderful “Japanese Mothers and Obentos: The Lunch-Box as Ideological State Apparatus,” after I make sure they understand what her argument is, we relate it to the their memories of the way their family prepared lunches for them at age 5 or 6. Everybody scribbles notes, and we describe it, then we do Anne Allison’s analysis and look for the structural message underneath.

One thing that all of us, including me, say is that our parents would prepare our wonderful, nutritionally balanced meal, send us off to 1st grade, and then we’d trade things… a tuna fish salad sandwich for something yummier, for example. Once we all admit we traded away our nutritious lunch, we ask: what does that really tell you about American culture? Then they discover, well, individual choice is really valorized, standing up to authority is valorized. You can do more of that biographical work in a food course than some others.

LRM: This is a writing intensive course. Could you tell me a little bit about the writing assignments?

SR: This has four 5-page response essays. They’re not research papers… the somewhat longer essay they write at the end is more of a research exercise, but the 5-page response essays are directed to the syllabus readings. It’s to make sure that they not only understand a set of articles, but have a critical perspective on it. The best way to demonstrate that is writing. Often I’ll ask them to pair two of the articles, and what they’re doing in an exercise like that is not only showing me that they’ve read those articles in really tremendous depth–real depth of understanding—but also synthesizing it into something that’s distinctly their own. I want them to take on the voice of an anthropologist.

Another thing with having regularly spaced essays: it means that they’re really keeping up with the readings. It takes a whole lot of grading time. With 25 students, all these essays, and in-class essay exams, it’s a lot of grading. But I find it eliminates the problem of a students showing up to class and not having read. If it means more grading time for me, that’s okay, because I really want them to keep up with the syllabus and to read these texts with some seriousness.

One of the goals of college education is to become a better, more precise, and maybe more creative writer. I tell them this quite explicitly before they write their first essay: I’m really interested in excellent writing, and I’m happy to work on drafts in my office hours and help students become a better writer. So that’s undergirding everything.

LRM: Do you have any final thoughts or suggestions for other teachers?

SR: I would say they should not underestimate their students. Even for first and second year students, you can have a complex syllabus.

Paul Farmer does work very well as a theoretical framework that catches younger students’ attention. A cautionary note, though: students tend to rapidly fall in love with Paul Farmer’s work overmuch, and you have to help them draw back a little bit and be a little critical of his ethically engaged anthropology – what Nancy Scheper-Hughes calls “anthropology with its feet on the ground,” – and with Farmer’s notion of structural violence and his hopefulness about structural change. Students glom onto that and want to run with it, so you have to incorporate some critiques.

Students, they’re college students. They’re serious adults. I think our syllabi should challenge them at that level. Often they can rise to the occasion. But you’ve got to have structures in place to make sure you don’t lose a student along the way. Make sure students who don’t understand the readings come to office hours, that sort of thing. Very time intensive, all these nice things I’m saying!

You want to make sure that once they’ve taken the course, and back they go to their normal life, they never think about food in a simple way ever again. Hopefully they’ll keep that anthropological vision of the social complexity of food. With the power element of my syllabus, I hope they think of issues of social class and social inequality, which they’re going to confront when they’re 30 years old and reading the newspaper, or maybe being a boss in a corporation and hopefully being attentive to adequate salaries for their workers.

The anthropology of food… It seems like such a fun topic. It lures them in. Then you hit them with this heavy-duty economic anthropology and political anthropology, and really pretty sophisticated theory, which they begin to like. And then, hopefully, they’ll use it in their other classes, and in their larger life.

I want to really change their vision of the world, maybe more in this course than in any other course of mine. In this course, I’m not worried if these students never take another anthro course. This is not only for anthro majors. You get students into it by the title, and it could be their one anthropology course. It has allowed the student to talk as a group and reconfigure their understanding of food and body and power. That’s an impact. That’s kind of a public anthropology impact on citizenship, I think.

LRM: Thank you so much for you time, and for inaugurating the SAFN food pedagogy interview series!

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Filed under anthropology, Food Studies, pedagogy, teaching

CFP: Putting the Cult back into Food Culture!

Food Cults

Call for Chapter Proposals

Editor:  Kima Cargill, University of Washington

Publisher:  Rowman & Littlefield/Food & Gastronomy Series

Series Editor: Ken Albala

Chapter Proposal Submission Deadline:  April 1, 2015

Book Overview:

Food Cults is an interdisciplinary edited volume which will explore questions of domestic and international, contemporary and historic food communities characterized by extreme nutritional beliefs, often viewed as “fringe” movements by mainstream culture.  While there are a variety of scholarly accounts of such food communities across disciplines, there is no single collection that pulls together these works, nor that anchors such communities in a theory of why we gravitate toward such groups and the social, economic, nutritional and psychological functions they serve.  Studying the extreme beliefs and practices of such food cults allows us to see the ways in which food serves as a nexus for religious beliefs, sexuality, death anxiety, preoccupation with the body, asceticism, and hedonism, to name a few.  Moreover, in contrast to religious and political cults, food cults have the added dimension of mediating cultural trends in nutrition and diet through their membership.

I suggest the term ‘cult’ as a dynamic one, and not necessarily a derogatory one.  I invite contributors to define culthood for themselves, perhaps ultimately rejecting it for the group they study.  Moreover, some contributors might argue that some of the dominant culture’s beliefs and practices surrounding food should be consigned to culthood, such as the cult of sugar, the cult of meat, or the cult of junk food.  While certainly many contributors will address cultural trends and fads, food cults differ from food fads in that membership in a food cult becomes a central organizer of one’s identity and revolves around a group dogma or ideology.  Cults of any kind function much like religion, often providing a conversion experience, a charismatic leader, collective identity, and a community of “worship” (either in person or increasingly online).  Like religion, cults provide a way to find meaning in confusing situations, like eating.

Pending submissions, the volume will likely be organized into two sections.  Section I (Theories and History of Food Cults) will include general survey chapters from multiple disciplines, such as anthropology, nutrition, theology, sociology, economics, and history.  Chapters in Section II (Historic and Contemporary Food Cults) will have more narrow foci, examining specific groups and practices.  These chapters might address topics such as:

  • Raw food diets
  • Psychoactive foods
  • Biblical diets (and/or other historical replication diets):
  • Disgust (culturally inappropriate food practices)
  • Supplements
  • Exotic game/endangered species
  • Poisonous/toxic food ingestion
  • Pet foods and pet diets
  • Muscle building/masculinity
  • Asceticism
  • Tapeworm/parasite diets

Submission Guidelines:

Length of each complete chapter manuscript: Each complete chapter manuscript must be between 4,000 and (no more than) 5,000 words, inclusive of the main text and references.

All submissions should include two documents: a Chapter Proposal and a separate CV of no more than three pages. The Chapter Proposal must contain (a) a working title of the proposed chapter, and (b) an 800 to 1,000-word exposition consisting of a clear description of the proposed chapter, including an annotated outline of the proposed chapter. Also include with your submission a separate CV of no more than three pages.

Submission format: All submissions must be written in English and prepared in accordance with Chicago Style. Please submit your documents in the MS Word file format as an attached document.

Please send your Chapter Proposal and CV in the same email on or before April 1, 2015 to Kima Cargill (kcargill@uw.edu)

Notification of acceptance status of chapter proposals: April 15, 2015

Submission deadline of complete chapters: on or before October 1, 2015

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Graduate Journal of Food Studies

Call for Submissions

The Graduate Journal of Food Studies is an international student-run and refereed journal dedicated to encouraging and promoting interdisciplinary food scholarship at the graduate level. The Journal is now accepting submissions for its third issue; the deadline is 31 March 2015.  Graduate students who have written an original food-related essay of first-rate scholarship are encouraged to submit. Essays on global food topics are particularly welcome. All submissions must be emailed to the editor, Carla Cevasco, at editor@graduatefoodassociation.org.

All authors must adhere to the style guidelines, and are encouraged to read previous issues of the journal, both found at www.graduatefoodassociation.org/journal.

Published bi-annually in digital and print form, the journal is a space in which promising scholars showcase their exceptional academic research. The Graduate Journal of Food Studies hopes to foster dialogue and engender debate among students across the academic community.

The Journal features food-focused articles from diverse disciplines including, but not limited to: anthropology, history, history of science, sociology, cultural studies, gender studies, economics, art, politics, pedagogy, nutrition, philosophy, religion, American studies, and the natural sciences. The Journal also includes a section for Book Reviews and features food-related art.

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Bridging the Past, Cultivating the Future: Exploring Sustainable Foodscapes

AFHVS/ASFS Annual Meeting and Conference
June 2428, 2015

Chatham University is pleased to host the Joint 2015 Annual Meetings and Conference of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society. Emphasizing a holistic intellectual and material landscape, this year’s theme emphasizes the need to plan forward by looking backwards, by imagining and creating spaces where agricultural and culinary practices mesh with opportunities for environmental, social, cultural, and material sustenance. Taking our cue from Pittsburgh’s history and character, symbolized by its many bridges, the conference theme encourages a focus on the processes that help us explore across divisions, whether they shaped by disciplines, theories, methods, or activist priorities, material needs, cultural and agricultural histories, historical or modernist narratives. We invite participants to explore the ways in which people have or have not created social and ecological landscapes, and what can be learned historically, globally, and locally about our capacity to create and maintain viable social, economic, and cultural food landscapes.

Submissions

AFHVS and ASFS support scholarship and public presentation on a wide variety of topics at their conferences. For this year’s conference, in keeping with the theme, we are encouraging papers, panel sessions, roundtables, and workshops that speak to the theme. These sessions can be from practitioners, activists, and others working in food systems and culture.

Submissions areas include but are not limited to:

  • Food Systems: local and global, past and present
  • Culture and cultural studies
  • Discipline-specific and interdisciplinary research
  • Art, design, and technology
  • Ethics and philosophy
  • Food access, security, and sovereignty
  • Community studies
  • Cultural, agricultural, and culinary preservation and innovation
  • Governance and rights
  • Pedagogy and/or experiential education
  • Labor in the food system
  • Energy and agriculture
  • Health: problems, paradigms, and professions

Submission Procedure

Abstracts due: January 31st, 2015

All proposals must include:

  1. type of submission (e.g., a paper, an organized panel session with separate abstracts for included papers, or a roundtable);
  2. title of paper, panel, or event;
  3. submitter’s name and organizational affiliation
  4. submitter’s e-mail address;
  5. names, emails and organizational affiliations of co-authors or co-organizers;
  6. abstract of 250 or fewer words that describes the proposed paper, panel, or event;
  7. please indicate AV/technology needs at time of submission
  8. a list of up to six descriptive keywords/phrases for the program committee to use in organizing sessions and events
  9. any attachments must include the last name of the submitter (i.e. Davispanel.doc)
For roundtables: Roundtables are less formal discussion forums where participants speak for a short time before engaging with audience members. Please submit a single abstract along with a list of expected participants.

For panels: Panels are pre-organized groups of no more than 4 papers. Please include a panel abstract as well as abstracts for each individual paper. Conference organizers will make the utmost effort to preserve panels but reserve the right to move papers with consultation from panel organizer.

For individual papers: Papers will be grouped with similarly themed topics to the best of the program organizer’s abilities. Please submit a single abstract along with contact information.

For workshops: Workshops are experiential or focused sessions where participants pre-register. Please provide an abstract as well as a list of organizers, resource and space needs, and any expected costs.

Notifications of acceptance will be provided by March 1st. Attendees are expected to register by April 30th or be removed from the program. Attendees must be members of have current ASFS or AFHVS membership at the time of the conference. The conference organizers regret that we are unable to provide travel support for meeting participation. We reserve the right to limit acceptance of multiple submissions by any one author. Space for workshops is limited and will be determined based on available resources.

Please note that all co-authors/presenters must register individually to be included on the program

Please direct questions to chathamfood@gmail.com

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CFP: 2015 UVM Food Systems Summit

Call for Presentations
2015 UVM Food Systems Summit
The Right to Food: Power, Policy, and Politics in the 21st Century
June 16-17, 2015 | Burlington, VT

The University of Vermont (UVM) Food Systems Summit is an annual event drawing scholars, practitioners, and food systems leaders to engage in dialogue on the pressing food systems issues facing our world. This year, UVM is partnering with Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems to increase collaboration from the law and policy community. By doing so, we seek to foster transdisciplinary scholarship and cross-professional partnerships in order to further humanity’s efforts to feed itself and steward natural resources.

The 2015 Summit will feature up to 9 competitively selected presentations on the theme “The Right to Food: Power, Policy, and Politics in the 21st Century.” Anyone with a scholarly or professional expertise in food systems is invited to submit a proposal. Presentations will be selected through a peer-review process and assigned to a panel by topic (3 presentations per panel).

The panel sessions will allow time for a 15 minute presentation from each panelist, as well as Q&A and engaged dialogue with the audience. The Summit will also include 3 invited keynote addresses from food systems leaders. Unlike traditional academic conferences, the Summit is designed to optimize engagement between scholars across disciplines and practitioners outside of academia. As such, the Summit is open to the public and we welcome participation from nonprofits, farmers, food business, government, and interested community members.

Themes: The overarching theme for the 2015 Summit is “The Right to Food: Power, Policy, and Politics in the 21st Century.” With this theme, we ask, what actions are needed to ensure that all people have access to adequate and nutritious food?

Presentations related to a variety of interpretations of this theme will be considered and assigned to a panel on one of the three following categories:

  • Biophysical Constraints: This theme is about land use, water use, and other environmental considerations of agricultural production. Do we have the agricultural capacity to produce enough food to feed our growing global population? Do we have the policies and laws in place to meet demand? How are ecological limits affecting the ability of different regions to produce their own food? What technology and scientific advances are available to support agricultural production? What are alternatives to just increased agricultural capacity to reach the goal of feeding humanity?
  • Geopolitical Context: This theme is about power in the food system, and food sovereignty from a local and global perspective. What role do governments and institutions play in guaranteeing or providing food? How does current trade policy affect the ability of communities to meet their food needs? How does the economy influence who does or does not have access to food? How much individual agency should one have over one’s food? How do international policy and legal decisions impact the growing, distribution, availability and access of food to everyone?
  • Behavioral and Cultural Considerations: This theme is about how biological and social factors affect what and how we eat. What individual and social circumstances determine a person’s relationship with food? How do laws and policies aid or detract from helping society determine best practices for the individual and common good? How do diet and consumer demand drive food production and distribution systems? How might behavior change be leveraged to shift production and consumption patterns?

Potential presentation topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Land access and tenure
  • National policy initiatives
  • Water rights
  • Food assistance programs
  • Agricultural subsidies/anti-subsidy policies
  • Intellectual property
  • International trade agreements
  • Domestic trade policy
  • Gender
  • International human rights covenants
  • Nutrition
  • Culinary traditions
  • Climate change
  • Food justice
  • Public health
  • Measuring food security
  • Biotechnology

Submission process: Individuals wishing to submit a proposal should submit a proposal to food.systems@uvm.edu by January 15, 2015. The proposal (MS Word or PDF) should contain the following information:

Title of presentation
Name, address, e-mail, phone number, and affiliation of presenter or primary contact
4-6 keywords
Presentation description (1500 words maximum; title and any references cited are in addition to this word limit)

Proposals that do not comply with these guidelines will not be reviewed. Electronic acknowledgments of submissions will be sent to all submitters.

Review process: Proposals will be reviewed by the Summit Proposal Review Committee, comprised of UVM and Vermont Law School faculty and affiliates.

Proposals will be considered in terms of their significance to the field, strength of methodology/design (if research) or argument (if commentary), and clarity of writing. Special consideration will be given to proposals on scholarship or projects that are working across academic disciplines and/or across different sectors of the food system, as well as to proposals by practitioners working outside of academia. Individuals will be notified of the status of their proposal by March 1, 2015.

Accepted presenters will receive complimentary registration to the Summit. Scholarships are available on a case-by-case basis to presenters who need financial support for travel and lodging in order to participate.

Contact Alison Nihart for more information on the UVM Food Systems Summit.

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Filed under anthropology, Call for Papers, Food Studies, food systems

CFP: Dystopian Underbellies of Food Utopias

With visions of Soylent (or the original, here) in the news these days, who can resist the following call for papers for a panel at the upcoming International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) conference in Zagreb, June 21-25, 2015.

Here is the panel description:

THE DYSTOPIAN UNDERBELLY OF FOOD UTOPIAS
Meltem Türköz (Işık University), António Medeiros (ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon)

This panel aims to bring together papers that explore the moral, aesthetic and philosophical axises around which food utopias are invoked, practiced and performed. Alan Warde’s insight that “the structural anxieties about our age are made manifest in discourses about food” invites us to explore the dystopian underbellies of food utopias. Whether they appeal to authenticity, peace, safety, equality, or plenty, food utopias inherently imply their physical, moral or aesthetic dystopian inverse: of industrial process, adulteration or contamination, distasteful palates, and of unshared bounty. In a cross-cultural parable about the difference between paradise and hell, people sit around a great pot of delicious food, holding spoons too long and large to feed themselves, only to be able to eat when they feed each other. Food-related responses to the industrial food complex, neoliberal globalization and militarization invoke the reciprocity and interconnectedness implied in this parable. The imaginary of un-alienated labor informs the marketing of otherwise industrially prepared foods. In the discourse of purity in extra virgin olive, of authenticity in heirloom fruits and vegetables, food imaginaries in film or literature, the spectacle of hospitality in tourism, or the practice of gift economies in social movements, actors highlight various stages of production, consumption and preparation. We hope to explore the following questions, among others: How are food utopias acquired or cultivated and manifested in daily life? What aspects of food production, exchange, or consumption do these practices and performances reify and make visible—and across which temporal, geographic and spatial boundaries?

The deadline for submissions on the conference web site is January 14th, 2015.

Send inquiries about the panel to Meltem Türköz (fmturkoz@gmail.com) or António Medeiros (antonio.medeiros@iscte.pt).

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Filed under anthropology, Call for Papers, food politics, food security, Food Studies