This fall, the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men will hold a semester-long discussion on The Politics of Food. Nearly every aspect of life can be traced back to food – global politics, gender, class and race relations alike are intertwined with the harvesting, production and consumption of food.
“I am delighted to serve as director of the Fisher Center for the fall term; it is truly a space that stimulates wonderful discussion on campus and brings great scholars to Hobart and William Smith,” says Associate Professor of Dance Cadence Whittier. “In the Finger Lakes, food – how it is accessed, how it is produced – is really relevant. This area is such a rich center for food production with so many farms and vineyards, that I am excited to bring in a lot of local experts as well as national scholars.”
Throughout the semester, speakers touching upon many different aspects of will join the discussion on campus. Two films will be shown to further enrich discussion, while Psyche Williams-Forson, Carole Counihan and Julie Guthman will address the issue through lecture. Each of these lectures will be followed by a round table discussion the next morning in the Fisher Center located in Demarest 112 at 9 a.m. The line-up is as follows:
Psyche Williams-Forson will present “When the ‘World on a Plate’ Visits Your Table: Culinary Conundrums of Gender, Nationality, Memory and Marriage” on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.
Williams-Forson examines the evolution of African American culinary history and culture, drawing upon her experience with the intermingling of American and Ghanaian cultures growing up. Williams-Forson is an associate professor of American studies at the University of Maryland College Park and an affiliate faculty member of the Women’s Studies and African American Studies departments and the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity. She is the author of the award-winning book “Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power.” She has also written several articles as well as book chapters.
A film screening and discussion of 2008 film “The Garden,” directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy, will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Sanford Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.
This film tells the true story of a 14-acre community garden at 41st and Alameda in South Central Los Angeles – the largest of its kind in the United States. Once an oasis and means of survival for many families, the garden is now slated to be torn-down. Filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy explores the plight of the farmers and illuminates the politics, money, poverty and racial tension that are at the frontlines of the fight to save the garden.
A panel of Hobart and William Smith faculty and local experts from throughout the Finger Lakes will present the film, followed by a question and answer session.
Carole Counihan will offer a talk called, “Gender and Food Activism in Italy,” on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.
In her lecture, Counihan will explore the role that gender plays in contemporary Italian food activism. Through extensive interviews, Counihan explores the road to building a food system in Italy that is more sustainable, more responsive to local communities and more justice.
Counihan is a professor of anthropology at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. She has a BA in history cum laude from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts. Supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, she wrote “A Tortilla Is Like Life: Food and Culture in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.” She is also the author of “Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family and Gender in Twentieth Century Florence” and “The Anthropology of Food and Body: Gender, Meaning, and Power.” Counihan serves as editor-in-chief of the scholarly journal Food and Foodways.
A film screening and discussion with the Fisher Center’s 2011 Woodworth Fellow Lucia Berliner ’12 will be held on Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. in the Sanford Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.
Berliner’s film investigates food at its most basic – as a means of survival. In focusing on creation, actualization and beneficiaries of healthy food for all, Berliner’s film shows the demand – as well as the compassion – created by network of small businesses and individuals committed to making a real difference.
Finally, Julie Guthman will offer a talk called, “Having Your Cake and Eating It Too: Reflections on the Origins and Character of Contemporary Food Activism,” on Wednesday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room, Warren Hunting Smith Library.
In her lecture, Guthman will examine the culture of current food activism. Her work takes a critical look at contemporary attitudes that stress teaching others how to eat and grow food, rather than contesting state or corporate practices.
Guthman is an associate professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz where she teaches courses primarily in global political economy and the politics of food and agriculture. Her first book, “Agrarian Dreams: the Paradox of Organic Farming in California,” won the Frederick H. Buttel Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement from the Rural Sociological Society and the Donald Q. Innis Award from the Rural Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. Guthman recently released a new book, “Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism.”
The photo above is from the movie, “The Garden.”