Reflecting On Our Own Histories with Food: Baby Scholars, New Projects, and Our Roots

Food history is deeply intertwined with the intimate and personal. Of course, what and how we eat is tied to social, cultural, economic, environmental, and political histories. But eating is also specific and personal.

Over the past six years, one of the strengths of The Historical Cooking Project has been our ability to bring together the micro and macro histories as they relate to food. 

I was recently reflecting on my own relationship with food history (What can I say?-- Historians, we tend to be stuck in the past...). I found a video of "baby-scholar" me, in which I was a 21 year old undergrad speaking at my first ever academic conference. The panel was "Food as a Topic of Academic Pursuit" at Wesleyan University's 2012 Foodstock. My co-panelists were Dr. Chi-Hoon Kim (who has written for The Historical Cooking Project), Dr. John Finn, and Will Levitt.

still from 2012 Foodstock Panel

In this video I see myself discussing the themes that drove my future MA and PhD work and my current book projects. In watching it, I am also reminded of the sometimes long and slow process of intellectual work. Rewatching this film made me both appreciate how I have grown as a scholar and has encouraged me to be gentle with myself as I continue to develop my ideas.

I can also see the ways that the fields of food studies and food history have developed in the past 7 and a half years. How the analyses of power relations, in particular, have deepened. 

What is amazing is that the video is still available. You can check it out here. In fact, the entire conference videos and audio are still available: https://www.wesleyan.edu/foodstock/schedule.html. With a few clicks anyone can see Ruth Reichel and Eric Asminov talk about about their respective works. You just need to know that the resource exists (not to mention have internet access, be able to hear or have assistive technologies as there is no transcription, and be able to speak English). 

This brings me to a topic that has become ever nearer and dearer to my heart: publicly accessible scholarship.

In 2013, when I co-founded The Historical Cooking Project, I was pretty ignorant about the kinds of barriers that existed for publicly accessible scholarship. Six years, 405,000 views, and our site's 260 published pieces later, I think daily about the benefits of challenges of doing this kind of work. These questions also come up with my project http://www.thefeministrestaurantproject.com.

These challenges inspired me to create the Feminist and Accessible Publishing, Communications, and Technologies Speaker and Workshop Series. The series seeks to bring together scholars, creators, and people in industry working at the intersections of digital humanities, computer science, feminist studies, disability studies, communications studies, LGBTQ studies, history, and critical race theory. The series will bring forward critical approaches to publishing practices, innovative communication strategies, and techniques for making research dissemination more accessible.

With over 22 events this year, the series is keeping me quite busy. But fear not! This is not the end of The Historical Cooking Project.

In the winter term, I will be teaching a special topics course on Food, Gender, and Environment. Look forward to future posts about that course.

We also continue to welcome guest posts by scholars (including graduate students)! I can attest that writing posts are a great way to engage with a topic of interest that you would like to spend some time with but not write a 5 year doctoral thesis or 2 years MA thesis about.

I also welcome you to explore our archives. After this post you have 259 other pieces you can read on our site.

Thank you all for your continued support!

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