Category Archives: Food Studies

5th Annual Yale Food Systems Symposium

Were you planning to participate in the Yale Food Systems Symposium this year? Depending on your plans, you may be happy to learn that they have changed the date (due to a conflict with a religious holiday) and extended the deadline for submitting proposals.

The new dates are February 23-24, 2018. The website with everything you would want to know is here.

From the request for proposals:

Invitation

Challenges facing food systems have long been referred to as “wicked,” because they resist simple, linear solutions. Stakeholders are diverse, with complex environmental, political, and social interconnections; solutions therefore necessitate information-sharing and community-building between actors working across disciplines. The Fifth Annual Yale Food Systems Symposium will bring together a mix of scholars and practitioners in panels, workshops, roundtables, and breakout sessions over two days to explore the complex dynamics of agri-food systems. This year’s theme “Resilience Across Scales” focuses on our capacity to absorb stress while maintaining integrity, which is crucial to the continued functioning of our food systems. We seek to engage questions of food production, consumption, urbanization, and climate change, and ability to adapt, reorganize, and evolve in the face of today’s challenges.

The symposium seeks to:

  • Create a platform for sharing cutting-edge research and applied learning from food systems scholarship and practice
  • Serve as a venue for the creation of fruitful working relationships across disciplines
  • Create a welcoming space for all who are engaged in the work of supporting sustainable food systems

Types of Programming

The symposium will consist of a diversity of proposed formats: speakers and panelists, presenting original research, as well as workshops, demonstrations, and roundtable discussion groups.

Submissions topic areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Nutrition, diet shifts, and sustainable diets
  • Food, ethics, and religion
  • Market-based solutions and private governance
  • Supply chain management, certification, and multi-stakeholder engagement
  • Food justice and activist movements
  • Plant biotechnology and cellular agriculture
  • Urbanization, land use change, and food systems planning
  • Sustainable agriculture and land use
  • Plant biotechnology and cellular agriculture
  • Global geo-political structure and food security
  • Systems science, industrial ecology, and circular economy
  • Food waste
  • Food policy, farm bill, and government
  • Indigenous food sovereignty

We also welcome ideas that span across categories or do not correspond directly to those outlined. The symposium draws over 250 students, educators, researchers, farmers, chefs, activists, and business professionals each year.

Submission Instructions

Deadline for submission is Monday, December 18, 2017. Abstracts & workshop proposals should be 300 words and include a title and keywords. Please submit online using our submission form. Accepted proposals will be notified on a rolling basis. Please refer to the conference website, yalefoodsymposium.org, for more information. Questions about proposals, workshops, submission, or registration may also be directed to yfss@yale.edu.

* The symposium was originally scheduled for September 29-30, 2017. It has since been rescheduled. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

 

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Filed under anthropology, CFP, conferences, Food Studies

CFP: “Food and …” Texas Tech, March 29-31, 2018

Upcoming conference of possible interest to SAFN members.

Call for Papers
“Food and . . . ” Conference
March 29-31, 2018
Humanities Center at Texas Tech

The Humanities Center at Texas Tech University (Lubbock, Texas) is happy to announce a call for papers for our first Annual Conference in the Humanities.  The conference topic each year aligns with the Center’s annual theme, which for 2017-2018 is “Food and …”.  Ways into the “what” following the ellipsis in “Food and…” may fall into myriad categories: culture, literature, politics, environment, technology, health, malnutrition, access, education, inequities, media representations, depictions in fine art, sustainability, ecology(s), local food, translation, small scale agriculture, agribusiness, taboo, packaging, eating disorders, marketing, terroir, and gastronomy. This list is not exhaustive.

The explosion of food studies at the end of the twentieth century was an institutional response to the myriad ways in which food might be approached by scholars, and the field has only expanded in the intervening years. Humanistic ways of looking at food run the gamut from primary source in material culture to semiotic tool; from literary trope to exchangeable commodity; from colonial weapon to method of cultural resistance; from obsession either due to absence or to fetish; from comfort, reassurance, and sustenance to oddity or source of disgust; from sin to salvation; from welcoming gesture to coercive faux hospitality; and from political bribe to political rallying point.  “Food and . . . ” crosses disciplines and invites many kinds of thinkers and critical conversations. We all eat, yet what counts as appealing, nourishing, traditional food in one culture is repulsive in another. As the introduction to a recent anthology of essays on food and theatre notes, food carries “symbolic and material unwieldiness,” showing “comestibles and their consumption to be both bedrock and flashpoints of cultural identity.” The myriad conceptualizations and human experiences of food offer the critic, the thinker, and the eater a prime node of analysis—a “place at the table” of intellectual and public discourse.

The conference aims to bring together an international group of scholars in order to interrogate the polyvalent uses of food in human life.  Prominent food critic and memoirist Ruth Reichl will offer the conference keynote lecture and performance artists Spatula and Barcode will present an interactive seder as the all-conference dinner on Friday, March 30th—the first night of Passover.

The TTU Humanities Center welcomes abstracts for individual papers as well as proposals for fully formed panels that address these or other related issues.  Potential speakers should send an abstract of 300 words and a brief CV (no more than 2 pages) highlighting work relevant to the topic at hand.  Scholars proposing a panel should provide an abstract of no more than 500 words and include a list of contributors (with the titles of their papers) as well as brief CVs (no more than 2 pages) for each.  Abstracts and panel proposals should be submitted to humanitiescenter@ttu.edu by October 15, 2017 with all documents contained in a single PDF.  In the subject line of your submission, please use the format “Food Conference/YOUR NAME/YOUR PROPOSAL or ABSTRACT TITLE” (e.g., Food Conference/Smith/Eating Rules) as the subject line in your email. We will make decisions as soon as possible after that in order to ensure sufficient time for participants to make travel arrangements.

Contact Info:
Dorothy Chansky, Director of the Humanities Center at Texas Tech University

Contact Email:
humanitiescenter@ttu.edu
URL:
http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/humanities-center/annual-theme.php

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Filed under anthropology, CFP, Food Studies, Humanities

SAFN Award Deadlines Extended!

SAFN is pleased to announce that we are extending the deadlines for both the Christine Wilson Award and the Thomas Marchione Award to July 28, 2017.

Thomas Marchione Award

Honoring the seminal academic and humanitarian work of Thomas J. Marchione, this award is given to an MA, MS or Ph.D. student whose active engagement in food security and food sovereignty issues continues and expands Dr. Marchione’s efforts toward food justice, food access, and food as a human right. The award can be in recognition of exemplary work completed or in progress, or for proposed work in the field of food as a human right and the social justice aspects of food systems.

Ideally, the recipient will be working towards, in Dr. Marchione’s words, “the best and more sustainable approaches to fulfill the right to food.” There will be one annual award of $750 (this will include a 1 year student membership to the American Anthropological Association and the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition).  The award may be for proposed or in-process research or a research prize for completed work. 

Eligibility: Open to Masters and Doctoral level students who will have completed their coursework and research proposal by the time of the annual American Anthropological Association meeting in the discipline of anthropology or allied fields (e.g. sociology, food studies, nutrition, etc.).  Students already engaged in relevant research, action or advocacy may apply in acknowledgement of their accomplishments.  Proposals must be focused on migrant and/or refugee communities in the United States or on developing world countries.

For more details on the award requirements, please visit: https://foodanthro.com/thomas-marchione-award/

NEW DEADLINE: JULY 28, 2017

Submit your application to Amy Trubek via email at atrubek@uvm.edu.

Christine Wilson Award

 The Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition is pleased to invite students to submit papers in competition for the Christine Wilson Award. This award is presented to outstanding undergraduate and graduate student research papers that examine topics within the perspectives of nutrition, food studies, and anthropology.

Papers may report on research undertaken in whole or in part by the author. Co-authored work is acceptable, provided that the submitting student is the first author. Papers must have as their primary focus an anthropological approach to the study of food and/or nutrition and must present original, empirical research; literature reviews are not eligible. Papers that propose a new conceptual framework or outline novel research designs or methodological approaches are especially welcome. Winners will be recognized and presented with a cash award at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association and receive a year’s membership in SAFN.

Students (undergraduate or graduate) must be currently enrolled or enrolled during the past academic year. The text of papers should be no longer than 25 pages, double-spaced and follow AAA style guidelines.

The text of papers should be no longer than 25 pages, double-spaced and follow  AAA style guidelines.  Please delete identifying information and submit along with the CWA cover sheet.

NEW DEADLINE: July 28, 2017

Submit your application to Amy Trubek via email at atrubek@uvm.edu.

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Filed under anthropology, awards, Christine Wilson, Food Studies, human rights, Thomas Marchione

What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, July 3, 2017

David Beriss

A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Got items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

Several weeks ago, we posted a link here to a New York Times op-ed by Bonnie Tsui that explored the strange case of “Asian Salad” on restaurant menus as part of a broader reflection on food and racism. It is perhaps not surprising that Tsui’s article generated quite a lot of commentary around the food world, especially the American food world. One of the more interesting set of commentaries on both Tsui’s piece and on the reactions to it can be found here, in a set of brief notes by Tsui, Shakirah Simley, Stephen Satterfield, Dakota Kim, and Tunde Wey. Along with the original salad editorial, this could be a great framework for a discussion in any number of classes.

The acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon has been the talk of the food world since it was announced a few weeks ago. What it may mean for the American food system, for food activists, for the food movement, is hard to determine, but there is no shortage of opinions. For instance, over at Slate, Joshua Clark Davis argues that it signals the demise of Whole Foods’ ability to be seen as a company with a somewhat different approach to capitalism. Derek Thompson analyzes the purchase as a business strategy in the Atlantic. On the NPR food blog, Mollie Simon examines small business owners who work with Whole Foods and finds their reactions surprisingly positive. And in the National Review, Henry I. Miller and Jeff Stier examine the purchase by raising some harsh questions about Whole Foods’ business model and ideology.

Soon after the 2010 BP oil spew in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the food critics here in New Orleans mused that seafood from the Gulf, long central to the local cuisine, would return to normal within a year. In this instance, he defined “normal” by saying that the seafood would not have any more oil in it than it did before the spill. A recent investigative article by Michael Isaac Stein, in the Lens, revealed what may be a very disturbing truth behind that comment (one probably not known by the critic, I should add): a surprisingly large number of the oyster leases off the coast of Louisiana are actually owned by oil and gas companies. The companies buy the leases in order to prevent lawsuits from oystermen from damage created by oil and gas exploration. Oil in seafood indeed…

There are a lot of different ways to try to capture a sense of place through food. Over at “First We Feast” there is a new series of food videos, Food Grails, devoted to exploring the “flavor” of different cities through iconic and somewhat less-well-known foods. These are variations on the kind of food television pioneered by Anthony Bourdain, with a focus on communities not often seen on more mainstream food networks. Miss Info (aka Minya Oh) is the presenter for each of the episodes, which explore Vietnamese Po’boys in New Orleans, mumbo sauce in Washington D.C., Jamaican beef patties in New York, and African-American tacos in South Los Angeles.

The Culinary Historians of New York have a journal and that journal has a new issue. You can read it here. Articles by/about Joy Santlofer, Paul Freedman, Charity Robey, and Kian Lam Kho, along with a list of (and links to) recent books by members of the association.

The most recent issue of Practicing Anthropology (volume 39, number 3, summer 2017) features research in applied anthropology from graduate students at the University of Maryland. Two of the articles should be of particular interest to our readers. First, Amber Cohen, Noel Lopez, and Katie Geddes reflect on subsistence fishing in rivers in the Washington, D.C., area. Second, Ashley Dam looks at the ways in which elementary school children in Maryland engage with federal nutrition education guidelines. In both of these cases, ethnographic research is used to make the case for particular kinds of social policies. These are both great examples of the kind of research we should be showing people when they want to know whether or not the anthropology of food and nutrition can be useful.

Want to buy domestic fruits and vegetables in the United States? There are farmers who grow such things, but they need workers to do that and for a long time many of those workers have been immigrants. As Tom Philpott has documented in Mother Jones, the Trump administration crackdown on undocumented workers has resulted in crops rotting in the fields. You can still get produce…it just has to be imported from Mexico.

Meanwhile, the fight for a livable minimum wage continues. Apparently one recent study seemed to suggest that raising the wage to $15 per hour actually hurt workers. But a review of a wider variety of studies by Michelle Chen at the Nation suggests that raising the minimum wage is particularly beneficial for workers in the restaurant industry. In addition, Michael Reich and Jesse Rothstein provide a very useful overview of some of the arguments and data in this debate here.

There seems to be a lot of industry interest in innovations in the food world. This may be a way of looking like a good corporate citizen or it might be about finding new products and new markets (or both). Certainly, the broad discourse around innovation, entrepreneurship, social marketing, disrupters, and all that is enough to make one wonder if companies are doing good or just trying to look good (refer back to the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon for an example of all of this). So it is with caution that we offer this link to an effort by Swedish furniture giant Ikea to help support startup businesses. They are looking for business ideas that will “challenge known truths in a world of ideas and technology.” Among the big thematic areas they want to disrupt: sustainability and food innovation. Got an idea? They might have resources for you.

You are going to want to wash your hands after you read this. It is a piece by Wayne Roberts, on Medium, about the effectiveness of soap and cool water washing of hands for food safety. But more than that, it is about the meaning people often bring to putting hands on food, in preparation as well as in eating. And it is an argument for thinking about food production as practice. Now, go wash your hands.

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Filed under anthropology, anthropology of food, applied anthropology, Food Studies

Food Studies for Anthropologists

David Beriss

I have just returned from the joint annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society, which is one of the most interesting Food Studies conferences around. This year’s event, at Occidental College, in Pasadena, California, was organized by sociologist John Lang, who, along with his team, did a great job while also maintaining a kind of relaxed cool. Many participants live tweeted the event, providing an interesting subtext. Emily Contois, who organized the live social media team, has written up an excellent overview of the conference and provided an organized view of the social media feed here.

Food Studies is an inherently multidisciplinary field, which may be what makes it attractive to anthropologists, the Zeligs of the social and human sciences. The opportunity to experience different approaches to the study of society through food is hard to resist. Of course, sometimes these cross-disciplinary conversations can be complicated. Discussing the politics of “cultural appropriation,” for instance, can be difficult when we are not all working with the same definition of “culture.” Yet the value of trying to figure out what everyone means is worth the effort. Three of the trends I noticed at this year’s conference help to explain why.

First, over the last few years, public policy has become an increasingly significant part of the conference. In addition to examining local foodways, increasing numbers of participants have worked to relate their analyses to the broader political-economic context and to the public policies that shape people’s choices and actions. The idea of a “food movement” gained national legitimacy during the Obama years, but that seems to be changing in the Trump administration. Yet the opposite is happening among food scholars, who seem more anxious than ever to find ways to make their research relevant to public policy and public debate.

There are many areas of policy (sustainability, agriculture, public health, globalization, etc.) that can be approached through food studies. There were policy-related discussions of all of these things at this year’s conference, but I was especially struck by a particular focus on labor in the food industry. This was central to the conference plenary panel, which was led by Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW’s “Good Food” show. The other participants were Joann Lo, the executive director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, Diep Tran, owner and chef at Good Girl Dinette, and Besha Rodell, restaurant critic for the LA Weekly. Tran wrote a powerful piece about food work and “cheap eats” on the NPR food blog earlier this year. With quite a lot of direct experience in the industry, the panelists made a compelling case for the need to change wage and tipping structures, along with providing better social support for food industry workers. The panelists also insisted on the centrality of gender, race/ethnicity, and immigration to discussions of food industry labor. The struggle for equity and fairness, already significant during the Obama administration, seems likely to become even more difficult—and essential—in coming years.

The influence and responsibility of science and of universities was also a central theme at this year’s conference. The keynote address, by Sharon Friel of the Australian National University, examined the role of research, activists, and corporate lobbies in shaping global food and nutrition policies. The presidents of both of the organizing associations, Leland Glenna (AFHVS) and Krishnendu Ray (ASFS) addressed the place of university research and researchers in the public sphere. Glenna focused on the hazards of corporate control of university research, while Ray raised questions about the politics of teaching and knowledge. From climate change, to vaccines, antibiotics, obesity, nutrition, health care, and, indeed, labor, the need for solid research to support public policy seems more important than ever. Yet the increasing grip of private industry on university research, combined with a delegitimization of scientific knowledge, threatens the role of scholars in helping to shape public policy.

Finally, there was a remarkable number of presentations that focused on research collaboration with the people being studied. Collaborative research has been a central focus in anthropology in recent years, so it was interesting to see that this sort of work, involving students, faculty, and broader communities, has also become more common in other fields. Areas of collaboration included promoting food justice activism, creating food-related museum exhibits, developing local food initiatives, and more. This kind of collaboration may offer an important link to both the making of public policy and efforts to make university research relevant to the public sphere. The national discourse from certain quarters may work to delegitimize the voices and work of university and other professional scholars., Grassroots engagement with the people we study can have the opposite effect, legitimizing research because it is their research as well. This is, I think, a good trend to see in food studies.

There are many kinds of knowledge that can be used to make sense of society through food. I have touched on only a few of the many themes that were reflected in the conference program. As a field of knowledge, Food Studies is clearly growing and thriving. For anthropologists who are interested in finding ways to make their research more relevant to policy debates, there is a lot to learn and many people to collaborate with in Food Studies. Next year’s conference will be in Madison, Wisconsin. I hope to see even more SAFN members there.

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Filed under AFHVS, anthropology, anthropology of food, ASFS, Food Studies

CFP: Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

We have received the following call for proposals from David Kaplan, which may be of interest to FoodAnthropology readers and researchers:

Call for proposals:  Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, 2nd edition. Eds. Paul B. Thompson (Michigan State) and David M. Kaplan (University of North Texas)

We are accepting contributions on the ethical dimensions of food, agriculture, eating, and animals. Entries should be 2,000 words (min) to 4,000 words (max).  Deadline for proposals: September 1, 2017

Contact David M. Kaplan (University of North Texas), David.Kaplan@unt.edu to indicate your interest. Dr. Kaplan will send you the Table of Contents.  Please suggest a topic (and a title) that is not included in the list.

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Filed under agriculture, anthropology, ethics, Food Studies

American Food

There is a lot of innovative teaching being done in food studies and we like to feature it here whenever we hear about it. Last year we noted that Emily Contois’ students at Brown had produced an interesting blog about Food and Gender in US Popular Culture. We were interested to see what she might come up with next. This year it is a student blog on the idea of American Food. The project grew out of a class she co-taught with Professor Richard Meckel on “Food in American Society and Culture” at Brown University. The texts range from thoughts on immigrant foods, to the role of convenience foods, American food in cross-cultural context, and much more. Interesting contrasts—between health and indulgence, for instance—are explored. There is a pretty nifty Pinterest board to go with it as well.

Go check it out. And send us your student projects! We would be happy to share them with the world.

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Filed under anthropology, Food Studies, pedagogy