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The Politics of Food

Semester and Year SP 2018
Course Number IDSEM-UG1674
Section 001
Instructor Myisha Priest
Days R
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 4
Level U



In this class we explore food as an explicitly political space, one that demarcates racial and cultural boundaries and shapes identities. We address these core concerns, in part, by engaging works of literature that examine the relationship between food and the expression of culture, history and trauma. Course texts may include novels like  Nervous Conditions ,  Breath Eyes Memory, Beloved , and  Black Boy.  Nowhere is food more politically and culturally charged than in NYC, so the city is also our classroom. We negotiate the porous yet enduring boundaries of race and culture as often as we eat, walk or shop in Little Italy or Little India, Koreatown or Chinatown, Le Petite Senegal or Harlem. None of these places or cuisines is in any way associated with contemporary American food culture, which has historically harkened to preserving what is "authentically" American. These differences can be understood as forms of exclusion as well as cultural preservation—but either way they are lines of demarcation that make legible forms of power. We use a variety of texts to investigate dynamics of power represented in and by food. Who is food for? How does the representation of food reify and negotiate the boundaries of race and culture?


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Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)