Fear, Fire, and Solidarity in New Orleans

David Beriss

Someone tried to burn down the Flaming Torch restaurant last week. The restaurant, flaming-torch-menu-signlocated in my neighborhood in New Orleans, is a French bistro that has been in business since 2004. It is small and friendly, with good French food, a little bit fancy (they have tablecloths), but very much part of the neighborhood. It is a reliable place for locals seeking classic French dishes (they make a great coq au vin), not a tourist destination. I have eaten there many times, but I especially remember eating there soon after Hurricane Katrina. The Flaming Torch was one of the first restaurants in the neighborhood to reopen and although they were desperately short-staffed, their presence was deeply appreciated by those of us who had come back to the city, because they provided a much-needed place to reunite with neighbors around good food and wine.

The fire, according to news reports, was deliberately set. The owner, Zohreh Khalegi, says she was upstairs, doing inventory, when someone broke into the dining room, doused the place with gasoline, and set it on fire. At least some of this was recorded by a security camera. She escaped to the roof and was rescued by the fire department. The interior damage is apparently quite extensive, so the restaurant’s future is uncertain.

flaming-torch-doorThe arsonist’s motives are unclear, but suspicions have been raised that this may have been a hate crime. Zohreh Khalegi, who started the restaurant with her late husband Hassan Khalegi, is an American citizen who immigrated decades ago from Iran. Although their origins were no secret, until recently there was very little in the restaurant that might have indicated the owners had any ties to Iran. In the last few years, the restaurant had begun to feature occasional special menus with Persian food. Certainly, for many people, this only made the restaurant more attractive, since there are not many other places to eat Persian food in the area. But the current American political context seems to have encouraged and given legitimacy to prejudice against people from countries like Iran (one of the countries subject to President Trump’s immigration ban). Could such prejudice have motivated someone to act against the restaurant? As far as I know, nobody has claimed responsibility for this act. But there have been threats and incidents of violence against immigrants and minorities all over the country since the presidential election. All of this is of grave concern and if the fire at the Flaming Torch is any indication, such things must be taken very seriously.

We do not know if this crime was related to anti-immigrant prejudice. But the fact that people are ready to believe that it is suggests that the political climate in the United States has reached a point (not, of course, for the first time) of critical danger. From fine dining to neighborhood diners, immigrants from many countries play a major role in the American restaurant industry. In New Orleans, as elsewhere in the United States, there are many restaurants owned and operated by people from predominantly Muslim countries, serving food from those regions. There are also many immigrants (perhaps most) who prepare and sell foods that have nothing to do with their origins, so they may not be visible as sellers of foods associated with immigrants. All of them may be targets for people who want to advance the nationalist agenda that has accompanied the rise of President Trump.

flaming-torch-thank-you

There has been an outpouring of support for Zohreh Khalegi and for the restaurant. People have posted testimonials and statements of support on the restaurant’s doors. Money has been raised to help with expenses. There are many people here in New Orleans who are eager to show their solidarity. The stakes involved are very high. By choosing to stand by owners of restaurants and other businesses that are targeted by racists and nationalists, we make a statement about what kind of community and nation we want to live in. We must all consider where we stand at this moment and what we will do to make sure that heated political rhetoric is not turned into more violence.

So why document this on an anthropology blog? There is a lot that anthropologists and other social scientists can do—and are doing—to help us understand the rise of nationalism and fear around the world in recent years. For anthropologists, this sort of incident can be an opportunity to think about how institutions like restaurants tie communities together, as well as about the ways violence, fear, and terror, can work to tear communities apart. We can call attention to the way such acts are named and discussed. President Trump recently claimed that many acts of terror are not adequately covered by the media and that, as a consequence, people do not take the threat of terror seriously enough. This act of arson, if it turns out to have been motivated by politics or hate, is an act of terror, but one that Mr. Trump will probably not define as terror, either because it is too small or because it had the wrong sort of victims. Yet acts of mass violence, including attacks on restaurants, schools, or religious communities, create exactly the kind of fear that terrorists try to achieve. We need to document the impact of these events and examine why they are interpreted by people as acts of terror. And, in this case, we can also show people coming together to resist and to show solidarity. In doing all of this, anthropology can help increase understanding and help resist those who would sow fear among us.

flaming-torch-rebuild

Resistance.

4 Comments

Filed under anthropology, food activism, Food Studies, New Orleans, restaurants

CFP: The Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography

Got students? Do they do ethnographic research and write papers about it? Check out this CFP, which may not be directly about food and nutrition…but could be. Let your students know!

Call for Papers: The Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography

The Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography (JUE) is an online journal for research conducted by undergraduates. We distribute original student-produced work from a variety of disciplinary areas. Our goal is to bring readers, especially other undergraduates, insights into subcultures, rituals and social institutions. The JUE encourages current undergraduates or those who have graduated within the past twelve months to submit original ethnographic manuscripts for consideration. Papers may include research on any topic. We also encourage faculty to recommend promising student work.

Submissions are welcomed for our next issues. Deadlines are January 31 and July 31. Please check out our website (undergraduateethnography.org) for submission guidelines and past issues.

For more information contact Martha Radice at radice@undergraduateethnography.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under anthropology, CFP, students

AFHVS/ASFS Deadline Extension

A quick update! The deadline for submissions to the AFHVS/ASFS Annual Meeting and Conference has been extended to February 6, 2017, at 9pm PST.

AFHVS/ASFS Annual Meeting and Conference, June 14-17, 2017

Call for Abstracts

http://oxyfoodconference.org/
foodstudies@oxy.edu
#oxyfood17

Occidental College is pleased to host the Joint 2017 Annual Meetings and Conference of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (AFHVS) and the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS).

The conference theme, “Migrating Food Cultures: Engaging Pacific Perspectives on Food and Agriculture,” invites us to reflect on and engage with the entirety of the Pacific region. The conference setting of Los Angeles, California, is a dynamic, diverse, and multiethnic global city that serves as a gateway, destination, and waypoint. Much of the food itself in California is produced in part by migrating workers and immigrants; indeed, the food scene in Los Angeles is the result of migrating food cultures. We use our conference’s location to invite participants to imagine and explore how the agricultural and food worlds throughout the Pacific mesh with environmental, social, cultural, historical, and material resources. We likewise invite participants to examine the roles of people, place, innovation, food production, and consumption, with attention to how these roles reflect and reinforce the social, economic, and cultural food landscapes of the Pacific.

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 encourage but do not require that papers, panel sessions, roundtables, and workshops speak to the theme. These sessions can be from practitioners, activists, and others working in food systems and culture. Submission 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
  • Migration, immigration, diaspora and transnational community studies
  • Community studies
  • Cultural, agricultural, and culinary preservation and innovation
  • Governance, policy, and rights
  • Pedagogy, food education, and/or experiential education
  • Labor in the food system, production, consumption
  • Energy and agriculture
  • Health: problems, paradigms, and professions

Submission Procedure

Submission system is open now.

Submission system closes: February 6, 2017 at 9:00am PST

All proposals must include:

  1. type of submission (e.g., individual paper, panel, roundtable, lightning talk, exploration gallery, etc.);
  2. title of paper, panel, or event;
  3. submitter’s name, organizational affiliation, and status (e.g., undergraduate, graduate student, postdoc, faculty, independent scholar, community member)
  4. submitter’s email address;
  5. names, email addresses, 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. indication of any special AV/technology needs;
  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 submitter’s name (e.g., Lang_John_restaurant_panel).

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 panels: Panels are pre-organized groups of no more than 4 papers, with a chair and discussant (who may be one person). 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 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 lightning talks: Lightning talks are a short talk format. Each talk will last a maximum of 5 minutes and will be included in a session with other lightning talks. The goal is to quickly, insightfully, and clearly convey your point while grabbing the audience’s attention.

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. We, unfortunately, do not have kitchen space for participants.

For exploration gallery display and poster proposals: Graduate students, food scholars, NGOs, researchers outside the academy, artists, and other members of the community are welcome to propose works for the 2017 Exploration Gallery. All media are welcome, including installations, print and other visual forms, audio, posters, and other works of art and design. A limited number of screen-based submissions will be accepted.

Notifications of acceptance will be provided by Wednesday, March 15, 2017. Attendees are expected to register by Sunday, April 30, 2017. For inclusion on the final program, at least one author from each submission must be registered as an attendee. Attendees must be members of AFHVS or ASFS at the time of the conference. The conference organizers regret that we are unable to provide travel support for meeting participation. Multiple submissions from an author are allowed, though 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.

Follow this link to submit an abstract.

Please direct questions to foodstudies@oxy.edu

Tentative Schedule

Wednesday, June 14

All Day             Conference Begins! Check-In and Registration Open

All Day             Pre-Conference Field Trips

Evening           Official Conference Welcome Reception

Thursday, June 15

All Day             Registration Open

All Day             Concurrent Sessions

Evening           Grad Student Social Event

Friday, June 16

All Day             Registration Open

All Day             Concurrent Sessions

Morning          AHV and FCS Journal Board Meetings

Afternoon        Individual Association Business Meetings: AFHVS/ASFS

Evening           Keynote Address

Evening           Banquet

Saturday, June 17

All Day             Registration Open

All Day             Concurrent Sessions

Morning          Joint AFHVS/ASFS Business Meeting

Afternoon        Presidential Addresses and Awards Presentation

Leave a comment

Filed under AFHVS, anthropology, ASFS, conferences

What Foodanthro is Reading Now, January 31st Edition

This article about a Syrian supper club in New Jersey was a glimpse of bridge-building, centered on food. Hooray for bridges.

And hooray for cooking, with cookbooks, even in a changing world, says Julie Thomson.

Over at Food Dive, they reflected on how Trump’s 120-day refugee ban might affect the meat-packing industry. For refugees who have spent a long time in camps and/or don’t yet speak English, the meat packing industry has long been a very large employer.

On the subject of cows, did you know cows sometimes eat skittles? Verified by Snopes, this is apparently not a new story, but it came to the fore again when cow-bound skittles ended up on an icy road in Wisconsin. Eater also helped shed light on the skittle situation with this article:

Joseph Watson, owner of United Livestock Commodities, told WSPD-TV in Paducah, Kentucky that a candy-based feed mixture has “all the right nutrition for them.” This is an argument America’s children have been posing at dinner tables across the country for years. But there are those concerned carnivores who don’t even like the idea of cows eating grain, so the idea of feeding America’s cattle sugary snacks is even worse. “Cows were meant to eat grass, not candy,”

Modern farmer describes the connection between the U.S. and South Korean egg markets, related to outbreaks of avian flu:

Egg prices are lower now than they’ve been anytime in the past decade, which is nice for American consumers but not so nice for egg producers who are trying to earn a living. So perk up, eggmen: South Korea is hungry for your eggs.

Other egg news this week is that the Unilever product, Hellman’s Mayo, is now made with cage-free eggs:

“They are one of the largest egg buyers to reach the point of exclusively using cage-free eggs, and they were also one of the first companies to announce that they were going to do it,” says Josh Balk, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection for The Humane Society of the United States. “I think that maybe at this point, in terms of the very large, national brands, it might be solely Unilever and Whole Foods.”

This is in an industry with very little margin, and in the midst of the cage-free movement. A little old, but the NYTimes wrote about the complexity of this shift:

If shoppers really want to buy eggs and have clear consciences, they may need to pay extra for pasture-raised, organic eggs, which can cost two, three or even four times as much as conventional eggs. Anything less than that means buying into an industrialized system of mass egg production, be it conventional or cage-free.

“It’s the nature of the system itself that is problematic,” Mr. Karcher said.

And lastly, why not pull up a chair and enjoy some hot chocolate while listening to a story about chocolate?

Leave a comment

Filed under anthropology

Assistant/Associate Professor Food Studies/Sociology

u-of-s-maine

 

 

 

Assistant/Associate Professor Food Studies/Sociology

The University of Southern Maine is seeking applicants for a two-year (the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic years) non-tenure track Food Studies faculty position with specific expertise in food culture and food systems.  The faculty member will have an appropriate Ph. D. with a record of teaching excellence in a relevant humanities field including history and languages, or in a relevant social science field including anthropology and sociology. The position will have a 3-3 teaching load, with a high expectation for developing an array of new courses, both undergraduate and graduate, that can support the planned curriculum, and serving as an active collaborator in university and community service elements of the Food Studies Program. There is the potential for this position to be renewed as tenure beginning 2019/20 contingent upon program demand and community impact, and also administrative approval.

The University of Southern Maine (USM) is dedicated to providing students with a high-quality, accessible, affordable education.  USM’s strategic focus is in alignment with the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities and we are seeking to become a Carnegie Engaged University by the year 2020.  USM offers Baccalaureate, Master’s, and Doctoral programs, providing students with rich learning and community engagement opportunities in the arts, humanities, politics, health sciences, business, mass communications, science, engineering, and technology.  Further information on USM can be found at http://www.usm.maine.edu

USM’s three environmentally friendly campuses are unique, yet all share the extensive resources of the university — and all are energized through strong community partnerships.  Offering easy access to Boston, plus the ocean, mountains and forests of coastal, inland and northern Maine, USM is at the heart of Maine’s most exciting metropolitan region:

  • Our Portland campus is located in “one of America’s most livable cities,” according to Forbes magazine, which also ranks Portland among the top 10 for job prospects.  A creative and diverse community on Maine’s scenic coast, Portland is nationally known as a culinary hot spot!
  • USM’s beautiful residential Gorham campus  supports and celebrates excellence in academics, athletics, music and the arts and is home to ten Living Learning Communities and six Residential Communities.
  • Our Lewiston campus is home to USM’s innovative and richly diverse Lewiston-Auburn College. This Central Maine campus integrates classroom, community and workplace, and provides a small college experience with the resources of a large university.

Qualifications:

Required: Ph.D. in a relevant field by the date of employment. Candidate must possess a strong knowledge of food systems, have a demonstrated record of teaching success, show strong potential for engaging the wider community, have the ability to contribute creatively to curriculum design and have research potential.

Anticipated salary range – mid $60,000s to 80,000 based on rank

Apply online at: https://usm.hiretouch.com/view-all-jobs. You will need to create an applicant profile and complete an application. You will upload a cover letter, a curriculum vita, a list of names and contact information for three references and a statement of teaching and research interests. You will also need to complete the affirmative action survey, the self-identification of disability form, and the self-identification of veteran status form.

Review of applications will begin March 3, 2017.  Materials received after that date will be considered at the discretion of the university.  Appropriate background screening will be conducted for the successful candidate.

USM is an EEO/AA employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Leave a comment

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

U of Toronto Food Studies Post Doc Opp

The Culinaria Research Centre at the University of Toronto invites applications for a full-time postdoctoral fellowship in the field of Food Studies, to work directly with the range of faculty at the University of Toronto working in food studies and under the direct supervision of Culinaria director Daniel Bender. This fellowship is open to scholars who have completed a Ph.D. in Food Studies or any related field in the humanities and social sciences, by the time of appointment and within the last five years. The appointment will be for one year, starting in the summer of 2017. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience, but with a minimum of $31, 000. Additional details about the position are offered below, and information about the Culinaria Research Centre can be found at: https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/culinaria/

We seek applicants with primary research experience in one or more of the following areas: urban food security; food and diaspora; food activism; food, urban livelihoods/labour, and urban agriculture; food and sensory experience; food and inequality; food and identity; and/or critical approaches to nutrition discourses and practices.

Fellows will interact with faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and food professionals across a wide range of disciplines and affiliated with the Culinaria Research Centre, one of the world’s largest research centres in the study of food and society. In addition to engaging in collaborative and independent research, the fellow will assist in planning and administering a speakers’ series, and other events through the duration of the fellowship. The Fellow is expected to be in residence at the Culinaria Research Centre (which is housed at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus) and will be able to conduct research at the University of Toronto libraries and in the Culinaria Kitchen. UTSC, located in the richly diverse eastern end of the Greater Toronto Area, is part of the tricampus University of Toronto.

Applications should be submitted by 6 March 2017, but review of applications will begin immediately. Applications should include: 1) a cover letter; 2) a curriculum vitae; 3) three letters of reference from supervisors or professors sent separately; (3) a writing sample; and 4) a statement of current and future research interests and their possible contributions to the research culture of the Centre. Applications, including letters of reference, should be submitted to culinaria@utsc.utoronto.ca.  Questions regarding the positions should be directed to Prof. Daniel Bender, Director, Culinaria Research Centre (culinaria@usc.utoronto.ca).

Employment as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto is covered by the terms of the CUPE 3902 Unit 5 Collective Agreement.  This job is posted in accordance with the CUPE 3902 Unit 5 Collective Agreement.

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous / Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

Leave a comment

Filed under anthropology, Food Studies

What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, January 27, 2017

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.

Among the Trump cabinet nominees most likely to have an impact on the global food system is former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, who has been picked to lead the Department of Agriculture. What sort of leader will he be? There are a lot of opinions, many of them collected here in this very interesting piece from Christina Cooke at Civil Eats. Tom Philpott, at Mother Jones, adds additional interesting facts here.

What does the new administration mean for food systems in the U.S. and around the world? At Food First, Ahna Kruzic and Eric Holt-Giménez have written an incisive critique of the privatization of the presidency and where they think this is going, at least for food. They also provide some ideas about what people can do about this.

It seems that the U.S. will be building some sort of wall on the southern border and cracking down on immigration. This will inevitably have an impact on many aspects of our food system, from agriculture to restaurants. This article from Brian Barth at Modern Farmer examines some of the consequences.

Food activists can certainly be critical of the incoming administration. But it is perhaps even more important to have an idea of what sort of policies should be implemented for food and agriculture. The folks at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future have published a very interesting agenda for food and agriculture policy for 2017. Read it and be inspired.

The new U.S. administration is clearly a concern for many people in the food movement. Perhaps we are over-emphasizing the role of the government in D.C., to the detriment of local activism and local government. In this article, Paula Daniels argues that food system change should take a more decentralized approach. Consider it!

Meanwhile, clever entrepreneurs are devising ways to make sustainable urban farms in really unlikely places. In a recent New Yorker, Ian Frazier writes about the development of vast vertical farms that use very little in the way of resources. Right now, it seems that in the future we will all be eating very expensive microgreens. And maybe nothing else. For an alternative version of urban farming, this NPR piece by Sarah Feldberg looks at more horizontal farming in Las Vegas.

The pull of “purity politics” sometimes seemed to be deeply embedded in the food movement. We are often told that we can change the world by changing our diet, by eating fewer (or no) animal products, by following strict diets, etc. In this wide-ranging interview, Alexis Shotwell, author of the recent book “Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times” (U of Minnesota Press, 2016) provides a deep critique of this approach to food and other areas of life, including useful insights on why this is not an effective approach to politics.

Are you a food media producer of some sort? Would you like to win €10,000 for your work? You might want to enter your writing, photos, or video into the Thomson Reuters Foundation Food Sustainability Media Award competition, which you can read about here. Want another award opportunity? Apply, by March 15, for a UC Berkeley Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship. This is for journalists, but one supposes that that could be widely defined. It is an opportunity to work on long form food systems stories.

Food historian Ken Albala has been deeply involved with all kinds of noodles for quite some time. Read about some of his experiments in noodling around (sorry, but that pun was inevitable) here. You may feel a need to find (or make) something with excellent noodles after you read this. Prepare yourself.

Need something to eat that you can afford and that may make you feel hopeful about the coming year? You do…and you will. The New Economy Chapbook Cookbook proposes just the thing. Read about it here and then follow the links to download a copy.

Leave a comment

Filed under anthropology, anthropology of food, Food Studies