Jaclyn Rohel earned her Ph.D. in Food Studies at New York University in 2018. She is the Reviews Editor of the journal Gastronomica. Jaclyn is JHI's 2021-2022 Community Engaged Humanities Research Fellow.
JHI: What are your main research interests?
JR: I’m a scholar of Food Studies, an interdisciplinary field in the humanities and social sciences. My research focuses on public culture and the marketplace in diverse cities. Over the last several years I have increasingly pursued an applied research approach. That is, as a community-engaged scholar, I try to find ways to put my research to work to create opportunities for social impact beyond the university.
JHI: What research project(s) are you working on now at the JHI and why did you choose it?
JR: This year I am working on several projects that, together, explore pleasure as a site of hospitality – care and welcoming – in city foodways. Broadly, my more theoretical work in cultural studies looks at how certain edible items attain culinary value while others may come to be contested. Under what conditions does a food become a tool of hospitality used to cement social connection? By contrast, how and why are some comestibles denied culinary value? This is largely a question about classification that brings together global histories as well as practices in everyday life, and it has implications for public culture, policy, and food access. My community-engaged research - which I am undertaking in collaboration with colleagues at U of T’s Culinaria Research Centre and the Feeding City Lab - focuses on sites of provisioning in Toronto to support more equitable, inclusive, and resilient foodways. We just recently had a couple of events on university-community collaborations -- stay tuned to the JHI’s Youtube page if you’re interested in learning more!
JHI: What experiences are you hoping for at the JHI?
JR: Our annual theme this year is pleasure. The potential to study this topic from the perspective of Food Studies seems obvious, but for my own work this year I want to shift the frame away from consumption to explore the meanings of pleasure within food systems more broadly. So, I am really interested in deepening my analytical framework by engaging with the theme in other contexts and disciplines. Every week I look forward to the Circle of Fellows meeting with my JHI colleagues, because I am continually learning from them.
JHI: Share something you read/watched/listened to recently that you enjoyed/were inspired by.
JR: It’s hard to choose just one. I’m the Reviews Editor at Gastronomica, so I have a running list of all the fascinating new books and films on food. I recently did an interview for Gastronomica with Kim Walker and Mark Nesbitt, authors of Just the Tonic: A Natural History of Tonic Water. This is a fun, accessible and highly informative book on the intersections of medicine, pleasure, and commoditization in global food history, published by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It’s also a beautiful book, with lots of visual storytelling drawn from the Kew’s image collection.
JHI: What is a fun fact about you?
JR: I like to cook (when I can find the time!). The first recipe I ever learned was schnitzel. I have fond memories of making it with my family when I was three or four years old; I haven’t had it in years, but I still clearly recall the well-worn look of our trusty frying pan. These days, my most indispensable kitchen tools are really just a good knife, a citrus reamer, and a healthy dose of humility.