From the Editor: The Politics of Citation in the Field of Food Studies

Rajasthani thali. Rajasthani thali.

Over the last several years, I have come across countless calls for scholars to imagine the “future(s) of food studies.” But we cannot grasp where we are going without understanding where we have been. How has food studies been constructed over time? As an academic field, food studies was first articulated in the wake of Euro-American poststructuralism, which prioritized systems of signification over materiality and the body. It also crystallized as Euro-American anthropology grappled with the first of many crises regarding its colonial entanglements. Of course, these “foundations” have not determined all food studies scholarship since the 1980s, but they have disciplined our discourse in the Foucauldian sense.

The eighth issue of the Graduate Journal of Food Studies proposes that we consider the politics of citation in the field of food studies. What do citations do? In Living a Feminist Life (2017), Sara Ahmed writes that “[c]itation is how we acknowledge our debt to those who came before; those who helped us find our way when the way was obscured because we deviated from the paths we were told to follow” (15). Feminists, and particularly feminists of color, have argued that citation is a critical site of knowledge production. To cite is to summon, to remember, and to build.

Feminists of color have also taught us that our intellectual inheritances might not serve us, “[f]or,” as Audre Lorde memorably wrote, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” As an invitation to this conversation, the editorial team offers two articles, two Food-Stuff pieces, two scholarly addresses from the 2017 GAFS conference, four book reviews, and a collection of twenty essays that highlight underrepresented texts in the field.

In “More Than a Lens: Reflections on Eating, Materiality, and Practice,” Maria Kuczera critiques the ubiquitous assertion that food is a “lens,” while also exploring other methodological starting points, such as its materiality. In “Hunger on the Homepage: Reading Suffrage Cookbooks and Food Blogs,” Molly Mann juxtaposes different forms of women’s food writing and asserts that these orally-driven desires are limited by their reification of what Kyla Wazana Tompkins calls, in Racial Indigestion (2012), “the white social body.” In “Attention: No Food or Drink in the Library,” James Edward Malin explores one particular structural challenge for interdisciplinary work in food studies: namely, its lack of unique taxonomy in the Library of Congress Classification System. He also makes a simple suggestion regarding how food scholars can help to fix this problem. In “The Phenomenon of the Park Slope Food Coop: The Stakes of De-Politicized Monotony,” Erica Zurawski reviews the 2017 documentary FOOD COOP and concludes that it avoids the many political and social questions troubling the alternative food movement.

We are delighted to be publishing remarks delivered by Alison Hope Alkon and Krishnendu Ray at the 2017 Graduate Association for Food Studies conference. We are also pleased to feature reviews of four recently published books  in the field: Divana Olivas looks at Mexican-Origin Foods, Foodways, and Social Movements: Decolonial Perspectives (2017), edited by Devon G. Peña, Luz Calvo, Pancho McFarland, and Gabriel R. Valle; Iris Yellum considers Benjamin Robert Siegel’s monograph Hungry Nation: Food, Famine, and the Making of Modern India (2018); Anastasia Day evaluates Joshua Clark Davis’s From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs (2017); and Gretchen Sneegas reflects on Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese (2017), written by Bronwen and Francis Percival.

Finally, as part of an edited collection called “Cite This,” twenty graduate scholars argue that the field ought to turn its attention toward twenty underrepresented texts. Together, they suggest that food studies should: take seriously the turn to the nonhuman and the Anthropocene; read indigenous scholars and grapple with settler colonialism; engage with more feminisms; consider more genres, such as speculative fiction, fiction, and poetry; attempt more historical work through religious manuals and material culture; ponder more scholarship in ethnic studies; explore more textures, places, and kinds of food; embrace more methods, such as qualitatively-informed GIS, materiality, and spatiality; and take up more texts published outside of academic presses.

These reading recommendations are not intended to be comprehensive in any way; instead, they represent the ideas of twenty graduate scholars working from twenty different locations. The editorial team hopes that these twenty essays might serve as threads toward further inquiry and emphasize that the field of food studies is more heterogenous than is sometimes acknowledged:

  • Rachael Baker, “String Figures and Companion Species: Finding Food Studies in the Chthulucene”
  • Maya Hey and Markéta Dolejšová, “Speculative Fiction as Companion Species in Food Studies Research”
  • Catherine Price, “The Need for Ecofeminism”
  • Huiying Ng, “Discontinuities, Sovereignties, Aesthetics: Writing a Food Studies Connected to the World”
  • Maegan Krajewski, “Everything for Sale Here is Dead”
  • Erica Maria Cheung, “Alimentary Asians: Bringing Asian American Studies to Bear on Food Studies”
  • Gazel Manuel, “The Cultural Politics of Fusion Cuisine Under Liberal Multiculturalism”
  • Zenia Malmer, “Textural Micro- and Macrocosms: Towards a Material Understanding of Food”
  • Luis Alexis Rodríguez Cruz, “From Ocean to Table: Integrating Marine and Coastal Food Systems into Food Studies”
  • Alexandra Pelletier, “‘Ditching Meat’ and Dining Alone: Shedding Light On Vegan And Vegetarian Scholarship”
  • Vincenza Ferrara, “Food Desert Identification: Going Beyond Geospatial Analysis”
  • Eleanor Barnett, “‘As thy body stands in need of food, so doth thy soule also’: Food and Religion in Richard Bernard’s 1616 Handbook”
  • Morgan Flaherty, “Architecture and the Art of Dining: The Performance of Dining in Early America”
  • Megan Betz, “A Poet’s Meditations as Entry to Critique”
  • Stacie A. Townsend, “Under the Feet of Jesus: Food Labor Dynamics in California’s Central Valley”
  • Ming Ming Cheung, “Transgressing Food Rules: Children’s Food Consumption in Catherine Sinclair’s ‘Holiday House'”
  • Anke Klitzing, “Pineapple Poetry”
  • Molly MacVeagh, “Narrative Craft”
  • Alaina Spencer, “Who Sets the Table?”
  • Zachary Goldberg, “The Radical Power of ‘Do-Nothing’ Farming”

This issue has only been possible as a collective effort. Thank you to Emma McDonell, Jessica Fagin, Maya Hey, Jessica Carbone, Claire Bunschoten, KC Hysmith, Maria Carabello, and Cheyenne Schoen. A special thanks to Maya Hey, whose photographs significantly improve the reading experience. This issue is the final one for Emma McDonell, who has expertly supported the publication of many graduate students over the last couple of years. Her contributions will be missed. Finally, thank you to our anonymous peer reviewers, and to you, our readers. If you have thoughts, feedback, or suggestions, please write me a letter.

Happy reading!

Catherine R. Peters