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Have you ever wondered why Spam is so popular in Hawaii and why Thai food is available all across the United States? Are you curious why black-eyed peas and collards are considered “soul food”? In this course, we will answer these questions by digging in to the histories of global environmental transformation through colonialism, slavery, and international migration. We will consider the production and consumption of food as a locus of power over the last 300 years. Beginning with the rise of the Atlantic slave trade and continuing through the 20th century, we trace the global movement of plants, foods, flavors, workers, businesses, and agricultural knowledge. Major units include rice production by enslaved people in the Americas; Asian American food histories during the Cold War; and fat studies critiques of obesity discourse. We will discuss food justice, food sovereignty, and contemporary movements for food sustainability in the context of these histories and our contemporary world. Readings are interdisciplinary, but our emphasis will be on historical analyses of race, labor, environment, health, and gender.
Format: seminar; Fall 2020 only: The course will be taught in a hybrid format that accommodates students on campus and those learning remotely. Depending on enrollment, some break-out discussions may need to be scheduled outside of the allotted time block (as would be the case in a tutorial). Discussion will be supplemented with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous online activities.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
two to three papers on assigned topics (4-6 pages); one longer final paper (8-10 pages); participation in discussion and online activities
Environmental Studies majors and concentrators; American Studies majors; Public Health concentrators; history majors
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
This course considers the production and consumption of food as a locus of power over the last 300 years, and contextualizes current movements for food justice and sovereignty in light of those histories. Students will have opportunities to reflect on questions of power, privilege, and racism in contemporary food movements. Our final unit focuses on challenges to critical food studies from fat liberation and body positivity
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
ENVI Humanities, Arts + Social Science Electives
HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada
PHLH Nutrition,Food Security+Environmental Health