Teaching Food History Against the Grain

Date and Time: 
Friday, 12 May, 2017 - 09:30
, Sarah - Senior Instructor, Department of History, Simon Fraser University.

Teaching history through ethnobiological and food lenses permits a fresh examination of stories we think we know, and can open new avenues of inquiry altogether. When constructing the African past, however, much historical documentation is shaped and narrowed by Eurocentric bias, including gendered expectations, racialized power structures, and grain-centric agricultural ideals. Moreover, popular conceptions of African food and farming are influenced by narrative tropes of famine, political insecurity, and exoticism perpetuated by mainstream media. How do we approach African agricultural practices, foodways, and food security against these shortcomings? Taking cues from recent headlines and research findings, I discuss ways to present students with alternate understandings of food history, and even food itself, rooted in logics local to several communities in Africa.