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Foodways (Re)Presented: How San Francisco Bay Area Organizations Reconstruct Narratives about Race, Health, and Food


In Foodways (Re)Presented: How San Francisco Bay Area Organizations Reconstruct Narratives about Race, Health, and Food, I analyze how black and Latinx community-based organizations respond to disproportionately higher rates of diet-related illness, particularly type 2 diabetes and premature death, through visual productions. There exists a struggle over how to represent food and cultural identity in visual spaces, including advertising, social media, blogs, websites, and cookbooks. I argue that the realm of the visual allows community-based organizations to intervene on pathologizing images that produce communities of color as inherently unhealthy and/or improper consumers. Instead, these case studies emphasize black and Latinx communities as life-sustaining rather than death-producing. Using cultural studies and Foucaultian discourse analysis, I examine a public service announcement, a short film, food desert videography, and cookbook photographs to reveal how they contest power relations, food and health inequities, and produce counter-narratives. These visual representations make structural critiques, engage affect and aesthetics, showcase images of life and vitality, and emphasize contemporary and historical healthy food practices within communities of color. I argue that black and Latinx communities produce their own knowledge about food, race, gender, sexuality, class, and health and claim a stake in contemporary food justice politics. By taking an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach, this project intervenes in the fields of ethnic studies, food studies, feminist science and technology studies, public health, geography, and sociology.

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