Mini-Conference on Food and Labour

tomato cases in a field

Dr. Maggie Gray and Dr. Sarah Fouts

March 12, 2019 - 14:00 to 17:00

U of T St George Campus, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street, Rm 318 (3rd floor)

Speaker: Dr. Maggie Gray, Political Science, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY

Why have food movement participants not embraced a deeper interest in farmworkers in the non-industrial agricultural settings?  What are the factors that prevent farmworkers from making more effort to change their immediate situations?  Based on interviews with Hudson Valley farmworkers and farmers and New York State farmworker advocates and others, this presentation focused on the conflation of local food with wholesomeness, romantic agrarianism, and paternalistic labor practices.  While the local food movement markets itself on the principles of sustainability, lost in the conversation has been the welfare of farmworkers.

Speaker: Dr. Sarah Fouts, Department of American Studies, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Eating Baleadas in Post-Katrina New Orleans: The Transnational Processes of Food, Labor, and Migration’

How do Central American and Mexican food workers negotiate the cultural and political landscape in post-Katrina New Orleans? How does a transnational approach expand this analysis? Using a multi-sited ethnographic framework, this talk centers on the relationship between cultural production, worker activism, and entrepreneurship of Latinx food vendors that settled in post-Katrina New Orleans. From tamale street vendors to taco truck owners, food entrepreneurs are emblematic of New Orleans recovery efforts, yet they face challenges in accessing legitimacy as part of a new and growing Latinx population in the U.S. south. Set within the context of hyper-investment in New Orleans’s tourist industry economy along with growing anti-worker and anti-immigrant movements, this talk sheds light on contradictions within free-market systems by underscoring the interplay between urban governance, disaster capitalism, immigrant entrepreneurship, and labor. Following the food vendors’ families to Honduras provides a lens into their day-to-day, offers insight into how street vendors build on similar strategies from the global south, and draws attention to social policies and precarious economies on a global scale.

This mini-conference is co-sponsored by Culinaria Research Centre and the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies.