#SFAGrad: Foodways and Social Justice

The Southern Foodways Alliance, along with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and the Graduate School at the University of Mississippi, will host our fifth annual Graduate Student Conference at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS, September 11-12. Attendance is free and open to the public.

Meet the presenters for our panel discussions.

Food Access: Diet, Nutrition, Health, and History

9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

“Disrupting Food Access: The White Citizens’ Council and the Politics of Food in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement”

Bobby J. Smith, II is a PhD Candidate in the department of Development Sociology at Cornell University. Bobby graduated from Prairie View A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture in 2011, and earned a Master of Science degree in Applied Economics from Cornell University in 2013. His current research interests are located at the intersection of food justice, race, class, food politics, and social movement activism and organizing.  His dissertation seeks to historicize contemporary ideas of food justice and illuminate the ways in which food activism was vital to the Civil Rights Movement.


“Identifying Pellagra in Human Remains: Is it Possible and Why is it Important?”

Myra Miller is a dual master’s degree candidate at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is pursuing an MA in Anthropology with an emphasis in Bioarcheaology and an MPH with an emphasis in Community Health Education. Her thesis attempts to refine a proposed model for the identification of pellagra in human remains. She is particularly interested in the social mechanisms that led to corn’s place in southern foodways as well as the social and biological reasons behind pellagra’s disproportionate effect on marginalized people. She is an east Tennessee native and alumna of ETSU.


“S.O.D.A.: Sugar Sweetened Beverage Consumption, Overweight, and Obesity Disparities in African Americans in the South”

Caitlin Sloane is a Master of Science in Nutrition candidate and dietetic intern in the College of Health Sciences at Samford University. She examines how systems, community, and culture interplay with health decisions and how personal empowerment and self-efficacy can promote positive health changes. Motivated by a childhood of poverty and by her experience in outpatient counseling in the Deep South, Caitlin is particularly interested in health disparities as they relate to ethnic background, socioeconomic status, and food security.


Feminist Foodways

10:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m.

“Darken the Roux: Black Women and the Rise of Gumbo”

Katya Schexnaydre is a recent graduate of Shimer College in Chicago, with plans to begin graduate work in African American Studies in the fall of 2018. She is particularly interested in black American foodways and the culinary history of Louisiana.


 “Don’t Be a Sissy-Nanny: Resisting Gender Norms Through Craft Butchery”

Victoria De Leone is currently working on an MA in Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. Through a documentary thesis, she explores the presence and absence of women in masculinized craft food spaces in the South. As an undergraduate at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, she studied gender and assimilation through foodways in immigration literature. All of her research centers on foodways, storytelling, and identity.


“Women, Wheat, and War”

Collier Lumpkin is an MA Food Studies candidate at the American University of Rome, currently researching and writing an anthropology-based thesis on the historical and contemporary interconnections between women and agency through the lens of wheat manipulation. Concurrently, she works for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, writing a book on innovations in global agriculture with a focus on highlighting women’s voices. She plans to start a PhD in Food Anthropology in 2018.


Constructing Community

2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.

“Suppers in St. Bernard: An Ethnographic Look Into the Supper-Giving Tradition”

Cocoa M. Williams is a PhD candidate in African American Literary and Cultural Studies with a minor concentration in American Modernism and Black Diasporic Modernism. Her dissertation explores the impact of museum culture on African American arts and letters. She holds bachelor’s degrees in English and Philosophy from Valdosta State University, as well as an MA in English from Clemson University. Cocoa is currently working on an autoethnography about New Orleans food culture entitled Searching for St. Bernard.


“Fêtes des Chefs: Celanthropy Reimagines the New Orleans Foodscape”

Jeanne Firth is a PhD candidate in Human Geography and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She holds a MSc also from LSE in Gender, Development, and Globalization. Her research interests include: food, agriculture, hunger, gender, race, poverty, wealth, development, sustainable development, celebrity humanitarianism, and corporate philanthropy.


“On Being a Person: It’s Chomping All the Way Down”

6:00 p.m.

Lisa Heldke is a professor of Philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. Although she teaches and writes about philosophy from many different angles, her writings on the philosophical significance of food and cultural appropriation were some of the first forays into the subject. Along with co-editing two books (Cooking, Eating, Thinking: Transformative Philosophies of Food and The Atkins Diet and Philosophy), she has written numerous articles and the book Exotic Appetites: Ruminations of a Food Adventurer.


Diverse and Contested Food Spaces

10:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

“Not Just a Grocery Store” (film)

Nicole Musgrave is currently working towards her master’s degree in Folk Studies at Western Kentucky University. Nicole is interested in using disciplinary methodologies to address social and cultural issues at the community level, specifically considering how people creatively respond to lack of access to food products. Recently, this has taken the form of conducting fieldwork in international grocery stores around Bowling Green, Kentucky. Additionally, Nicole is interested in the intersection of foodways and healthcare, and how vernacular conceptions of health relate to foodways practices.


“Orientalism, Tiki Restaurants, and Korean Food in America”

Crystal H. Rie is a second-year master’s candidate in Asian Studies with a concentration in history, society, and culture at Georgetown University. She was born and raised in South Korea and moved to the United States to pursue higher education. She is particularly enthusiastic about how experiences and history of Korean American immigration relate to the “nationalizing” process of Korean cuisines in the United States.


“Creole and Cajun Cuisine: An Economic Disparity”

Jennifer Bailey is a Master of Liberal Arts Candidate at Boston University. Her background is in Kinesiology and Nutrition with a focus on sports performance. Her current interests lie in food and culinary history, since food provides an insightful lens through  which to view history and culture.


“Male Spaces in the South: The Grocery Store as Gendered Sphere”

Chloe Brown is a graduate student in Folk Studies at Western Kentucky University. Her interests include southern literature, southern folklore and foodways, and the intersection of southern identity and race, class, and sexuality.


Gentrification and Nostalgia

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“From Hurricanes to Hefeweizens: How the Receding Floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina Initiated a Surge of Craft Beer in New Orleans”

Grace Weitz is a passionate craft beer connoisseur and food studies enthusiast who wants to create sustainable change to our modes of consumption. She has developed a career in the food and beverage industry from directing store operations and managing back of the house teams to developing and fostering key relationships with accounts for breweries in the Greater Chicago area. With background in journalism from Northwestern University and experience crafting editorial calendars for start-up businesses, she’s looking to combine her experience in the beer and food industry with a job in communications and media to curate conversations around craft beer and cuisines.


“When Culture Is at Risk: What Locals Have to Lose in the Midst of a Booming Bourbon Tourism Industry”

Dani Willcutt is an MLA candidate in Gastronomy at Boston University where she is researching the Kentucky Bourbon Trail’s place in growing sector of culinary tourism. Willcutt has traveled to Tanzania to research economic development by means of sustainable tourism management. She is now focused on developing culinary tourism markets throughout the American South in a way that will invigorate       domestic tourism.


“Welcome to My Frontier: Post-feminism, Race, and Rural Nostalgia in ‘The Pioneer Woman’”

Growing up in the agricultural communities of the California Central Valley catalyzed Yunyi Li’s interest in food studies. She received a BA in Women’s Studies and Visual and Media Studies from Duke University in 2014 and is currently a graduate student in Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA. Her research examines intersections of gender, race, visual culture, domesticity, and food.