From the Editor: The Many Cycles of Academic Life

As I hurried across campus one day this May, watching newly-minted Ph.D.s mill around in their regalia, I thought about the many cycles of academic life. Semesters and students come and go. Research projects begin and end. For every fresh-faced new doctoral student, there is a haggard candidate trying to finish up and get out the door. (Not that I know any such person, of course.) I’ve been thinking along these lines lately as I approach the end of my graduate career and whatever comes after it. This is my last issue as editor of the Graduate Journal of Food Studies. The past two years and three issues have been an invaluable part of my graduate education. I’ve dreamed big for food studies. I’ve hated on food puns. I can’t begin to express how much I’ve learned from our authors, artists, readers, and advisors. It’s been a joy to work with you all.

My last issue is our first proceedings issue, highlighting some of the excellent work that graduate students presented at the October 2015 Graduate Association for Food Studies conference at Harvard University, The Future of Food Studies. Over two days, nearly one hundred attendees shared papers, tweets, Instagram photos, and some of the most thoughtful, respectful conversation I’ve ever seen in an academic setting. In addition to the forty paper presentations, the conference hosted keynotes by advisory board members Fabio Parasecoli of the New School and Joyce Chaplin of Harvard University. We had such a great time that we can’t wait to do it again: we’re excited to announce that our next conference will be held in October 2017 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

In this issue, we present five feature articles that began as conference papers, all of them engaging with big questions that will define the future of food studies: What makes food “local” or “diasporic”? How should policymakers regulate local, mobile, and international foods? How do ideologies shape food cultures? And how can food scholarship make a difference in the world? Darcy Mullen analyzes different spatial definitions of “local” and their consequences for food systems, policy, and consumer choice in “Cartographic Communities of Locavores: Local Ideographs and Spatial Rhetoric.” In ‘“Thug Life’ in a White Kitchen: Exploring Race Work in the Language of Cookbooks,” Meaghan Elliott investigates the racial politics of a popular food blog, and asks larger questions about language in flux. John Jones’s “The Regulation of Mobile Food Vending in New York City” unpacks the tricky policy questions behind the food truck craze, and proposes a typology of mobile food vending to aid policymakers. Francesca Grazioli explores the cuisine of Roma communities, and how diaspora has shaped a marginalized people’s tastes, traditions, and gender roles in “Roma Communities in Italy: The Table as a Formative Space Between Self and Community.” Finally, Samantha Desroches’s “Freedom to Want: The Projection of American Abundance in Postwar Western Europe, 1945-1960” examines ideology and policy in a historical context, by investigating the ways the U.S. exported food imagery to Western Europe in the early years of the Cold War. Finally, this issue’s artist, Leah LaFera, engages with a series of unsettling kitchen objects and their histories in the photo essay “Objects in Residence.” I won’t say more. Go look and think.

So, this is my last editor’s note. The eminently talented Emily Contois will take over as editor in our next issue. I could not leave the Journal in more capable hands, and she has exciting plans in store. What’s more, you will notice that we have moved to an innovative online format, featuring even more insightful content and art. My deepest thanks to Emily Contois and Brad Jones, who spearheaded our new online presence.

As much as I look forward to having my degree in hand, the uncertainty in my future is, frankly, pretty terrifying. But I would do my Ph.D. over again in a heartbeat; every early morning of writing, every late night of editing, every afternoon in the stacks, every lunch with friends. I can’t say I wouldn’t change a thing about my graduate career, but I wouldn’t change my experience with GAFS and the Journal. Keep writing, researching, and dreaming of food, and while you’re at it, no food puns!