Eating Theory: The Racial Politics of Food & Farming

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014 - Thursday, Mar 20, 2014 | 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

691 Barrows Hall

Eating Theory: The Racial Politics of Food Farming
Mediating an Intimate Public: Chino Latino Restaurants and Emergent Forms of Sociality
Prof. Lok Siu, Ethnic Studies
Chino Latino Restaurants in New York City represent the most prominent public cultural institutions that index the transnational migratory circuits of Chinese from Asia to Latin America to the United States. This migratory itinerary through different social-cultural systems informs the culinary expressions of these restaurants as well as the distinct publics they engage. This talk examines these restaurants as intimate publics that perform not only the disruptive work of challenging prevailing US notions of bounded raciality and the conflation of race, culture, and place, but also the production of an emergent sociality that facilitates intercultural exchange and social intimacy, which form the basis for a meaningful reworking of community and belonging.
“So God Made a Farmer”: Proximities of Empire and the Agrarian
Hossein Ayazi, Environmental Science, Policy, Management
In support of the National Future Farmers of America Association, founded in 1928, Ram Trucks announced 2013 to be the “Year of the Farmer.” Their commemorative Super Bowl advertisement, which featured excerpts from radio broadcaster Paul Harvey’s nostalgic 1978 speech, “So God Made a Farmer,” set against fifteen images of a primarily white male agrarian workforce, told a story of a farmer “with arms strong enough to wrestle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild.” This paper uses Harvey’s famed speech and its 2013 redeployment to elucidate the racial, gendered, and sexual subject positions produced, promoted, and excluded at the intersection of domesticity and American agrarianism. Central to my analysis is the relationship between the representational economy of food production in the United States, normative and queer formations of domesticity, and the environmental-spatial production of possibilities for the existence of settler colonial subjectivities. In my research, I use Harvey’s 1978 speech and the 2013 Ram Trucks commercial to ask how farming is framed as an act of domestication, and how agrarianism and domesticity together constitute settler subjectivities. Focusing upon the farmer that God made, my research elucidates the continued imbrication of Christianity within American agrarianism; the gendered and “family values” framing of domesticity; the linking of American farming with conservative popular media; and neoliberalism and consumer capitalism’s requirement for mobile subjectivities. For my work, I draw on Amy Kaplan’s notion of “domesticity” that imagines the nation as home, opposite a racially-demarcated foreign. I use Jafri’s concept of settler/colonial desire that tracks how settler coloniality becomes naturalized by relying upon the order of sexual difference, and how settlerhood is recognized primarily through racial difference. I also use Nayan Shah’s concept of “queer domesticities” to foreground social affiliations that counter normative gender roles and public and private binaries, and illuminate how normative expectations and representations of domesticity intersect with legacies of settler colonialism.

Open to the public. Location is wheelchair accessible.

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