CSA 2016: Headed to Philly

Just got the word that my paper presentation proposal was accepted for the Fourteenth Annual Conference the Cultural Studies Association (CSA).  The conference will be held at Villanova University June 2-5, 2016, striking distance to my father’s home just over the bridge in New Jersey and right next door to some old friends who live in Philly.  I am thoroughly looking forward to the conference, to visits, and in particular being able to do these things at an unhurried pace this summer.  And, of course, all suggestions for places to get a tasty or interesting bite/drink are welcomed! Details on the paper below:

commisary2From Corner Store to Commissary: Placing Correctional Food Systems in the Food Justice Movement

The corner store–its shelves packed with over-priced, highly-processed, calorie-dense, nutrient-deficient foods–has become a symbol of the crises of food access and food quality defining urban “food deserts” across the United States.  But the ubiquitous inner-city corner store has a lesser-known analogue in private commissaries that operate in a growing number of the nation’s prisons.  And significantly, product selection and pricing are not the only lines of similarity between these two retail institutions.

This paper examines the articulation of urban food systems and correctional food systems in the contemporary United States.  The analysis explores the social practices and systems of dependency that bind these retail institutions and urban communities of color.  It asserts that the corner store and the commissary share a strategic orientation to the capitalist profit imperative.  It demonstrates that both institutions are positioned to reinforce the cycle of impoverishment and incarceration by the rhetoric of individual choice–a rhetoric that is common to both the U.S. agri-industrial food system and many “good food” initiatives.  Finally, this paper argues that “placing” the correctional food system within conversations and analyses of food systems more broadly has both practical and heuristic value for the food justice movement.

MAPACA 20014: Charm City Here I Come

Just got the word that my paper presentation was accepted by the Food and Culture division of the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association (MAPACA).  Thinking about a weekend trip in November to attend MAPACA’s 2014 Conference in Baltimore makes me realize just how long it has been since I visited Charm City, a place I used to consider an annex of my DC stomping grounds.  Thoroughly looking forward to it and, of course, all suggestions for places to get a tasty or interesting bite are welcomed!  Details on the paper below:



The Orthodoxy of the Farmers Market: Popular Constructions of the Green Economy, Poverty Alleviation, and the Question of Urban Food Sovereignty

In recent years, farmers markets have been widely understood to be solutions to many of the complex social challenges embedded within in a flawed American agri-food system. The farmers market as a cultural institution, unique urban geography, and economic formation has been situated at the intersection of discourses about food insecurity and environmental degradation—often as a solution that is mutually beneficial for sellers, consumers, and the urban locales in which markets are frequently organized. However, farmers markets largely maintain dependencies upon cultural-economic techniques of valuation that are structured by a capitalist profit imperative, effectively limiting their ability to embody the radically progressive politics that are central to the food and environmental justice movements. This paper argues that popular constructions of the farmers market represent an orthodoxy that has significantly constrained the public and activist imagination with regard to developing more effective food-based poverty alleviation strategies and meaningful interventions in the unsustainability of urban ecologies.