UTEP presents food studies experts
El Paso, TX (UTEP) — UTEP’s Third Food Studies Lecture is being presented on Feb. 5 & 6 at the university’s Rubin Center with the theme "What the Study of Food Adds to the Humanities." Four well-known scholars in the field of Food Studies will be participating as guest speakers with Q&As after each lecture. Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., will open the event on Feb. 5, while Senior Vice Provost Cheryl Torsney, Ph.D., will introduce the speakers on Feb. 6.
“Food Studies is rapidly becoming one of most dynamic areas of scholarship, yet a lack of awareness remains on the significant role all the disciplines within the humanities plays in this realm of research,” said Meredith Abarca, Ph.D., associate professor of English. “Furthermore, the study of food demands attention for its material reality – that we need food for basic physical survival – but also for its complex symbolic cultural and historical value. This event joins these two invaluable aspects of Food Studies.”
Abarca co-organized the lectures with Consuelo Carr Salas, a Rhetoric and Writing Studies doctoral student. She and Abarca are co-authoring the book Making the Invisible Visible: Latinas and Latinos in the Food System.
Psyche Williams-Forson, Ph.D., will be lecturing on “’Crossing' Borders by Policing the Plate: Bringing Gender, Race, Class, and Region into Food Studies.” Gary Paul Nabhan, Ph.D. will speak on “Food Justice: The New Agraian ‘ism’ and the Role of Humanities in Healing the Urban Rural Divide.” Lisa Heldke, Ph.D., will lecture on “Food and Agriculture: The Quintessential Topics for Liberal Artisans”. Carole Counihan, Ph.D., will present a talk entitled “Ethnography, Food Studies, and the Humanities: Crossing Borders Between Places, People, and Disciplines.”
A roundtable discussion on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. entitled “Connecting Food Studies with Local Food Community Awareness” will give the public an opportunity for greater interaction with the guest speakers along with Catherine Yañez, program and outreach coordinator of La Semilla Food Center, and Jacqueline Cordova of local restaurant The Green Ingredient. Restaurateurs, chefs, educators, growers, and others are invited to attend. The roundtable will be held in the Hudspeth building, room 100.
The event is sponsored by UTEP’s Department of English and was made possible in part with a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Previous Food Studies lectures were presented in 2009 and 2010.
As a leader in this emerging field of study, Abarca’s co-edited collection Rethinking Chicana/o Literature Through Food: Postnational Appetites (Palgrave) was published in December. Her article "Receta de una memoria sensorial para los tamales afro-mestizos: Eduardo Machado" was published in Comidas Bastardas: Gastronomía, tradición e identidad en América Latina (Cuatro Propio). Her encyclopedia entry “El Tamal” was published in Encyclopedia of Latino Culture: From Calaveras to Quinceañeras, edited by Charles M. Tatum (Greenwood).