“War is probably the single most powerful instrument of dietary change in human experience.” –Sidney Mintz. Cans of spam, bars of chocolate, and bubbling pots of military stew. A motley mix of sucrose, sodium, monosodium glutamate, and spices; often overprocessed, constantly repackaged, sometimes illicitly exchanged, and daily consumed. In this course, we will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the historical processes, social practices, and cultural politics of food in the age of U.S. empire, mapping out reverse pathways from our palates, plates, counters, and kitchens towards the lands and seas that connect the Americas, the Pacific Islands, and Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will examine food through a range of contexts and case studies, including but not limited to scholarship, (auto)ethnography, literature, film, television, advertising, social media, and blogs. We will ask: how is food entangled within histories and patterns of war, imperialism, settler colonialism, capitalism, diaspora, and migration? What does food tell us about our attachments, investments, and (dis)taste for narratives around democracy and multiculturalism, authenticity and appropriation, gentrification and privilege, “tradition” and change? Finally, how can food help us reimagine the social and political dimensions of the places we live in and nourish pathways to decolonial futures and possibilities? This will be primarily a discussion-based seminar although a minimal amount of cooking may also be required.
The Class: Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: participation (attendance, discussion, posts), reading responses, short video, fieldwork, final analytical paper/project
Prerequisites: AMST 101
Enrollment Preferences: American Studies majors
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: Analyzes the dynamics of power and privilege in the U.S. from a national and transnational context, examines the perspectives of socially marginalized groups, and fosters an understanding of the beliefs, experiences, and cultures of these groups.
Attributes: AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora