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City Food

City Food

Recognizing that food is essential to the reproduction of cities, this Working Group will examine how food, even as it has shaped the infrastructure of emerging cities, has become the focus of a politics that structures normative practices and geographies of production, accessibility, distribution and consumption.  As disparate groups have come together in ever-closer spaces, the role of food in the economic viability, social vitality and ecological integrity of urban space has never been more central. But as people have migrated and forged connections between global cities, they have created transnational flows of foodstuffs and food practices that reshape urban structure and politics. Indeed in an age of enhanced and intensified mobility, the diversity of foods produced, consumed, and sold in expanding cities has increased dramatically. Food studies scholars, however, often miss the way food is woven into the physical, psychic, and economic fabric of cities as they overemphasize the ahistorical label of 'ethnic foods'. Equally, urban studies scholars and policymakers have used 'ethnic food' merely as a symbol of urban diversity, but overlook its economic and cultural centrality. The City Food Working Group pays attention to the interrelation of urban structure and food politics in ways that move beyond a kind of lazy cosmo-multiculturalism. It brings together a group of interdisciplinary scholars to explore the production and consequences of these food politics particularly in the context of dynamic transnational urbanization, and to develop a comparative approach to understanding dynamic transnational urban foodways with specific attention to early modern, modern, and contemporary cities in North America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.

Our methods and approach build directly on the broad international expertise found in a leading research university and the cultural opportunities of the thoroughly transnational city of Toronto.  Each of the Working Group's seminars will bring together multidisciplinary participants to explore the interplay of food, identity and transnational urbanization.   We will integrate practitioners (farmers, importers, vendors, chefs) directly into key seminars in order to see how in transnational cities that set markets, restaurants, and shops at the centre of their collective lives, the producers, purveyors, preparers, and consumers of food become vital agents in the production of urban space. 

Ken MacDonald, UTSC Human Geography
Dan Bender, UTSC Historical & Cultural Studies

Hillary Cunningham, Anthropology
Naisargi Dave, Anthropology
Linda Rui Feng, East Asian Studies
Harriet Friedman, Geography
Donna Gabaccia, UTSC Historical & Cultural Studies
Rick Halpern, Dean UTSC
Franca Iacovetta, UTSC Historical & Cultural Studies
Josée Johnston, Sociology
Hui Kian Kwee, UTM Historical Studies
Vanina Leschziner, Sociology
Minelle Mahtani, Geography
Irina Mihalache, Information
Kevin O’Neill, Study of Religion and Diaspora & Transnational Studies
Steve Penfold, History
Jeff Pilcher, UTSC Historical & Cultural Studies
Ato Quayson, English and Diaspora & Transnational Studies
Jayeeta Sharma, UTSC Historical & Cultural Studies
Anna Shternshis, German, Jewish Studies, Diaspora & Transnational Studies
Alison Smith, History
Nicholas Terpstra, History
Shiho Tsatsuka, Anthropology

Sarah Cappeliez, Sociology
Heléne Caron, French
Laurie Drake, Sociology
Jen Evans, History
Sarah Livingston, History
Nick Lombardo, Geography
Aldea Mulhern, Study of Religion
Merin Oleschuck, Anthropology
Sanchia DeSouza, History
Sarah Tracy, History
Nick Tosaj, History
Aaron Walker, History

Richard Aronson, History, York University

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