Geographies of Race and Food

Fields, Bodies, Markets

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  • Edited by Rachel Slocum, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, USA and Arun Saldanha, Lancaster University, UK
  • Series : Critical Food Studies
  • While interest in the relations of power and identity in food explodes, a hesitancy remains about calling these racial. What difference does race make in the fields where food is grown, the places it is sold and the manner in which it is eaten? How do we understand farming and provisioning, tasting and picking, eating and being eaten, hunger and gardening better by paying attention to race? This collection argues there is an unacknowledged racial dimension to the production and consumption of food under globalization. Building on case studies from across the world, it advances the conceptualization of race by emphasizing embodiment, circulation and materiality, while adding to food advocacy an antiracist perspective it often lacks. Within the three socio-physical spatialities of food - fields, bodies and markets - the collection reveals how race and food are intricately linked. An international and multidisciplinary team of scholars complements each other to shed light on how human groups become entrenched in myriad hierarchies through food, at scales from the dining room and market stall to the slave trade and empire. Following foodways as they constitute racial formations in often surprising ways, the chapters achieve a novel approach to the process of race as one that cannot be reduced to biology, culture or capitalism.

  • Contents: Foreword, Julie Guthman; Geographies of race and food: an introduction, Rachel Slocum and Arun Saldanha; Race in the study of food, Rachel Slocum; Part I Fields - Ecology, Labor, Inequality: Fields of survival, foods of memory, Judith Carney; ‘The issue is basically one of race’: Braceros, the labor process, and the making of the agro-industrial landscape of mid-20th century California, Don Mitchell; Sensations of food: growing for the nation and eating with the hand in Bahia, Brazil, Susan Paulson; Urban agriculture and race in South Africa, Jane Battersby; Peas and praxis: organizing food justice through the direct action of the Newtown Florist Club, Newtown Florist Club Writing Collective. Part II Bodies - Diet, Taste, Biopolitics: Sustaining difference: climate change, diet and the materiality of race, Nigel Clark and Yasmin Gunaratnam; Objet petit, eh? Consuming multiculturalism and superorganic food at the Persian Nowruz celebrations, West Vancouver, Nazanin Naraghi and Paul Kingsbury; Dishing up difference: assemblages of food, home, and migrant women in Hamilton, Aotearoa New Zealand, Robyn Longhurst and Lynda Johnston; Meatify the weak! Cannibalism and (post)colonial politics, Rick Dolphijn; Food in Australia’s Northern Territory emergency response: a Foucauldian perspective on the biopolitics of new race/pleasure wars, Dinesh Joseph Wadiwel and Deirdre Tedmanson. Part III Markets - Exchange, Commodification, Empire: Linking food deserts and racial segregation: challenges and limitations, Hilda E. Kurtz; White bread biopolitics: purity, health, and the triumph of industrial baking, Aaron Bobrow-Strain; Skinning the banana trade: racial erotics and ethical consumption, Mimi Sheller; Monopoly’s violence: Georges Bataille explains the early Dutch spice trade, Arun Saldanha; Afterword: biocultural entanglements, Elspeth Probyn; Index.

  • About the Editor: Rachel Slocum is Assistant Professor in the Geography and Earth Science Department at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. USA, Arun Saldanha is Senior Lecturer at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK.

  • Reviews: ‘Critical approaches to race and food have travelled along parallel tracks for too long, seemingly unaware of each other’s concerns. Slocum and Saldanha have now brought these separate strands into productive conversation, tracing the geographies of race and food across fields, bodies and markets, highlighting genuine opportunities for progressive change.’
    Peter Jackson, University of Sheffield, UK

    ‘Race and food, food and race. If at first blush this seems an unlikely mix, think again. Starvation, obesity, nutrition, anorexia, food security, food safety, food sovereignty, soul food, diasporic cuisine, the live animal trade, food deserts, eating practices, farmers’ markets, white bread bio-politics, hunger strikes, the very matter of human variability, the colonial histories and geographies of agriculture, bananas, cocoa, sugar and spice…these are just some of the ingredients with which this volume blends the fields of race and food, richly expanding the critical remit of both.’
    Kay Anderson, University of Western Sydney, Australia