Here at The Historical Cooking Project we have always been interested in the role of gender in food production and consumption. Our editor, Alex Ketchum, is co-organizing an exciting conference this fall in Montreal about the intersections of food, fermentation, and feminism. We invite you to apply!

“LEAVENING THE CONVERSATION: intersections of food, fermentation, and feminism”
Saturday September 30 – Sunday October 1 

deadline for abstracts & proposals WEDNESDAY August 16, 2017 

We are pleased to announce the inaugural Intersections of Food, Fermentation, and Feminism conference, to be held over the weekend of September 30 – October 1, 2017, at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (IGSF) of McGill University. This two day, bilingual event will bring together scholars and makers with the goal of integrating the thinking and doing of fermentation.

At this time, we invite abstracts for paper presentations as well as proposals for panel discussions, workshops, galleries, and demonstrations. Details on submissions can be found below. 

Feel free to distribute this notice widely to whomever you think might be interested. Please direct all inquiries to writemayaAnote[at]gmail[dot]com. We look forward to hearing from you. 
- conference organizers

Food is a medium. Like conventional examples of media, food carries both content and relational messages that are produced, distributed, and consumed frequently and widely. As content, foods are the literal vehicles for delivering messages that are subsequently decoded and digested into meaningful units. Once absorbed, food-as-content can then be repurposed and mobilized by bodies, recirculating nutrients where needed. Fermented foods, in particular, act as a medium that interfaces between humans, microbes, and microbial foods. As a transformative process, fermentation incorporates multiple species, multiple senses, and multiple scales. As a metaphor, it operates as a productive figure for speculation and experimentation. Fermented foods also carry meaning and, as such, play into the relational and identity politics of the everyday eater. Here, a feminist lens provides a complex understanding of how the material and the discursive are constructed in and through food rituals, performatives, and customs. Where heteronormative ideologies dictate and prescribe, feminism and fermentation are grounded in the affective, the sensorial, and the peripheral. Thus, food, fermentation, and feminism literally and metaphorically figure into each other.

We follow McLuhan’s broad interpretation of a medium to mean “that [which] shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action” (McLuhan, 1964, p.2). Based on this lenient definition of a medium: How do food and ferments mediate and (re)negotiate questions of access, subversion, transformation, and agency? How can fermentation render alternative modes of mediating and processing? How do feminist accounts of the body or feminist modes of care shape scholarly work in food and/or ferments? How can the applied work of makers and mediators, coupled with the theoretical work of scholars fabulate a more plural and just future? How do food, fermentation, and feminism fold into one another?

At the core of each of these domains --food, fermentation, and feminism-- are binaries that animate dominant paradigms and power structures. Food is characterized by good/bad aesthetics, health/junk parameters, gourmet/street, and conventional/organic ideologies. Fermentation deals with human/nonhuman, self/other, and mind/body dualisms. Lastly, feminism is equally haunted by gender binaries, public/private spheres, productive/reproductive labor, affect/intellect, though many feminist scholars are actively collapsing these to propose alternate framings. We ask the question, what are the intersections between fermentation and feminism? How can material and discursive shifts in gender, germination, and gastronomy be leavened with the type of complexity that supports social change? 

Some topics of interest include (but are not limited to):
  • foods performing feminism, or vice versa
  • fermentation as a feminist intervention
  • transformative media
  • intersectionality and ferments
  • the gendering of food/ferments
  • notions of gender/contamination
  • nourishment and/or feminist notions of care
  • bodies as unbound and porous
  • microbial agency and relational politics
  • heteronormativity and ferments
  • disruptive mediations
  • ferments and questions of scale
  • food, fermentation, and intimacy
  • gustatory/sexual consumption
  • food, participation, and agency
  • circulation of affect in food movement
  • food activism and materiality
  • radical media and microbes
  • changing gender roles over who is brewing/ fermenting/ performing this labor

We welcome abstracts/proposals from a variety of fields, including communication studies, gender studies, cultural studies, history, anthropology, sociology, English, art, political science philosophy, life sciences, as well as other disciplines. We hope to gather ideas from a broad geographic range. Submissions can be in English and in French. 

Additionally, a select number of papers presented at the conference will be considered for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal. 

Please send an abstract (250 - 500 words) along with a brief biography (100 words) to by filling out this form.
(or if you have technical difficulties 
writemayaAnote [at] gmail [dot] com)

Proposals for pre-organized panel discussions, workshops, and demonstrations should include a summary (500 words), description of participants (100 words per speaker), as well as a proposed schedule.

deadline for abstracts & proposals Wednesday August 16, 2017 

Conference Organizers / Guest Editors 

Alex D. Ketchum, PhD candidate Department of History, McGill University 
Maya Hey, PhD student Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University

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