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Starving for justice: reading the relationship between food and criminal justice through creative works of the Black community

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ABSTRACT

Much attention has been given to food justice in both academic and activist communities as of late. This project adds to the growing discourse around food justice by using creative

ABSTRACT

Much attention has been given to food justice in both academic and activist communities as of late. This project adds to the growing discourse around food justice by using creative works produced by members of the black community as case studies to analyze the relationship between food justice and the criminal justice system in their neighborhoods. In particular, this project examines two unique sources of creative expression from the black community. The first is the novel Been ‘Bout Dat, the story of a young boy Fattz, who is born into the projects of New Orleans and takes to street life in order to provide for his siblings and struggling single mother. Written in prison by Johnny Davis it offers a valuable perspective that is combined with historical context and statistical support to construct an understanding of how concepts of food and criminal justice influence each other. The second source is the lyrical content of several hip-hop songs from rappers such as Tupac Shakur, Mos Def, Nas, and Young Jeezy. Comparing the content of these works and the lived realities expressed in both brings new and useful insights about food justice and criminal justice as experienced in poor minority communities. Recognizing this relationship may illuminate solutions to food justice issues through criminal justice reform as well as inform fresh efforts at community renewal.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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Gardens of justice: food-based social movements in underserved, minority communities

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Residents of the United States increasingly support organic and local food systems. New Social Movement theorists have described alternative agriculture as a social movement that transcends social class. Other scholars

Residents of the United States increasingly support organic and local food systems. New Social Movement theorists have described alternative agriculture as a social movement that transcends social class. Other scholars have critiqued alternative agriculture for catering to a middle-class, white public. Simultaneously, geographers have identified communities across the United States that struggle with reduced access to healthy fruits and vegetables. In some of these neighborhoods, known as “food deserts,” local groups are redefining an inequitable distribution of healthy food as a social injustice, and they have begun initiatives to practice “food justice.” The overarching research questions of this study are: 1) How do communities become food deserts? 2) How do food justice movements crystallize and communities practice food justice? 3) What are the social outcomes of food justice movements? Using an Ecology of Actors framework, this study analyzes the actors and operational scales of three food justice movements in Phoenix, Arizona. A narrative analysis of historical scholarly materials and other artifacts reveals that, for more than a century, some communities have tried to create minority-operated local food systems. However, they were thwarted by racist policies and market penetration of the conventional US food system. Interviews with residents, garden organizers and food justice advocates living and working in the city create a narrative of the present day struggle for food justice. Results of this work show that contemporary residents describe their foodscape as one of struggle, and carless residents rely upon social networks to access healthy food. Garden organizers and gardeners are creating networks of community gardens, market gardens, and informal farmers’ markets. They are actively transforming their communities’ landscapes with sophisticated garden ecology in an intense urban heat island. However, the movement’s continued success may be threatened. Many new Phoenix-based local food coalitions and national alternative agriculture social movements are now working to alter Phoenix’s foodscape. Composed of well-educated professionals, who have adopted a justice-based language around food, these organizations may unintentionally co-opt the local food justice movements.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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(En)gendering food justice: identity and possibility within the American alternative food movement

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Research demonstrates that the contemporary global food system is unsustainable, and moreover, because some groups carry the burden of that unsustainability more than others, it is unjust. While some threads

Research demonstrates that the contemporary global food system is unsustainable, and moreover, because some groups carry the burden of that unsustainability more than others, it is unjust. While some threads of food activism in the United States have attempted to respond to these structural based inequalities--primarily those of race, ethnicity, and social class--overall, very little domestic activism has focused on issues of gender. As feminist scholarship makes clear, however, a food movement "gender gap" does not mean that gender is irrelevant to food experiences, social activism, or agricultural sustainability. Building on a framework of feminist food studies, food justice activism, and feminist social movement theory, this dissertation makes the case for "(en)gendering" the domestic alternative food activist movement, first by demonstrating how gender shapes experiences within food movement spaces, and second, by exploring the impact that an absence of gender awareness has on the individual, community, and organizational levels of the movement. Employing a feminist-informed hybrid of grounded theory and social movement research methods, field research for this dissertation was conducted in community gardens located in Seattle, Washington and Phoenix, Arizona during the summers of 2011 and 2012. With the assistance of NVivo qualitative data analysis software, field notes and twenty-one key-informant interviews were analyzed, as were the discourses found in the publically available marketing materials and policies of domestic food justice organizations. This study's findings at the individual and community level are hopeful, suggesting that when men are involved in food movement work, they become more aware of food-based gender inequalities and more supportive of women's leadership opportunities. Additionally, at the organizational level, this study also finds that where food sovereignty is influencing domestic activism, gender is beginning to enter the discussion. The project concludes with policy recommendations for both community gardening and food justice organizations and the detailing of a new concept of "feminist food justice", with the end goal of preventing the food movement from undermining its own potential to secure a "real alternative" to corporate industrial agriculture.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013