MIT Course Number: WGS.700
Tuesdays 4:00 - 7:00 PM
January 29 - May 7, 2019
Food is more than a means of sustenance; it mediates social relations, transmits cultural values, underlies a great deal of economic activity, and both shapes and reflects gender identities, norms, and ways of being. In this course students will explore the complex and often contradictory interplay of gender and food in the corporeal, socio-cultural, and material domains. Using insights from feminist, sociological, anthropological and political economy studies, the course considers how notions of masculinity and femininity have been associated with food production, distribution, and consumption historically and in contemporary societies. We will examine the changing political economy of food due to processes of industrialization, globalization and the transition from a colonial to a neoliberal world order. Topics covered include cultural framings of “fatness” and the role of media in shaping gendered tastes and food habits; changing relations and practices of domesticity and family feeding; global and domestic inequalities in access to food; work relations of paid in-home and restaurant cooks; global value chains and gendered divisions of labor as they intersect with racial, national, and class hierarchies; and efforts to achieve progressive social change through engaging with the food system.
Carole Biewener is a Professor of Economics and Women’s and Gender Studies at Simmons University. Her current research addresses the political economy of food. Prior publications address the genealogy of the term "empowerment," social economy projects in the United States and Canada, debates at the intersection of poststructuralist feminism and postmodern Marxism, and the French Socialist government's financial policies in the 1980s.
Laura J. Miller is Associate Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University. Her research focuses on the intersection of cultural and economic factors within industries, and their relationships with social movements. Her current project examines the history of vegetarian cookbooks in order to trace changing meanings attached to the advocacy of vegetarianism.