Past Conferences

The Future of Food Studies 

Cambridge, Massachusetts | October 23 – 25, 2015

Presented by the Graduate Association for Food Studies with major funding from the Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University

The Graduate Association for Food Studies held the first Future of Food Studies conference in 2015. In addition to 40 paper presentations by graduate students from throughout the United States and the world, the conference featured two keynote speakers: Professor Fabio Parasecoli, acclaimed food studies scholar and coordinator of the Food Studies program at the New School, and Joyce Chaplin, Professor of Early American History at Harvard University.

Food studies has arrived. It is hard to imagine that two decades ago, scholars seriously considered food only in a few disciplines, usually at the margins. As food studies has exploded across disciplines, the field now boasts its own professional associations, journals, and undergraduate and graduate programs at institutions around the world. In addition, the past decade has seen a surge of public interest in food, from food trucks to urban farming to The Hunger Games—even as food security remains unattainable or elusive for billions of people. Food has never been more relevant to academic inquiry.

As food studies has risen to prominence, scholars have emphasized that we can use food as a lens to examine nearly any topic. Yet it is clear that food studies must grapple with many questions, including questions about the field’s own identity. With food studies becoming increasingly institutionalized, how will the discipline continue to evolve? What new subjects, methods, or theories will reshape the study of food in coming years? What areas of food culture and politics urgently need academic attention? And how can the discipline stay relevant when public interest in food inevitably wanes? Emerging scholars at the forefront of the discipline offer exciting answers to these questions.

This conference presented graduate scholarship that provided original approaches to food studies, whether applying creative theories and methods to established questions or subjects, or interrogating unconsidered topics in novel ways. Papers represented the fields of anthropology, history, sociology, cultural studies, gender studies, economics, art, politics, pedagogy, nutrition, the natural sciences, philosophy, and religion, as well as other disciplines and interdisciplinary approaches.

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