Join Editorial Collective member Paula Johnson in conversation with her Smithsonian colleague Stephen Velasquez, author of the recently published “Stirring the Pot: Calendario de Comida 1976, Chicano Art as Food Activism.” Paula and Steve discuss how the Calendario, created by California-based artist collectives in 1975, sought to bring attention to alternative foodways and indigenous food knowledges as part of a broader social justice movement, as well as the broader role of Chicano activists in reimagining colonial histories and identity.
Gastronomica is pleased to introduce a new journal section with an exclusive focus on translation(s).
Even recipes written in English a century ago need contextualization (if not actual translation of now-obsolete words and/or ingredients) for readers today. Such a task is even more complicated when it comes to translating and adapting centuries-old works from other languages into English, be they cookbooks, primers to survive famine or to cook with rationed foods, guides to “healthy” eating, or similar texts. Despite these challenges, making such primary sources more accessible to students and researchers around the world is critical to stimulating and maintaining the growth of diverse voices in global food studies.
We therefore invite submission of
translations into English of key culinary texts originally written in any language (though currently not available in English), and from all regions of the world. Translations can be of entire texts, or part(s) thereof with critical commentary;
essays reflecting on the challenges and opportunities relating to such translations (for example, the need to develop new vocabularies to express indigenous concepts; how translators engage with historical non-English texts like recipes that may assume more information and insight than they provide, and how culinary terminology has changed over time in tandem with other historical developments and shifts);
collaborative works featuring two or more scholars in dialogue about a specific translation, and/or (but not limited to) any of the issues outlined above.
We envision clustering translations and other accepted submissions thematically or geographically, with an introduction by one or more contributors, or other invited subject-matter experts.
*Please note that we continue to invite all other forms of Scholarly and Food Phenomena submissions, including creative visual works such as photo essays (see art submission guidelines here), and pieces with a focus on food, justice and activism.
The practices of everyday commensality—producing, provisioning, and consuming food and drink in the West Bank of Palestine—are radically affected by the Israeli occupation. I discuss two very different Palestinian initiatives that envision production and consumption of food and drink as a nonviolent means of resisting the occupation: a craft beer called Taybeh brewed in the predominantly Christian Taybeh village close to Ramallah, and a local agriculture movement based in the Ramallah district known as Sharaka (“partnership” in Arabic). Theories of resistance in anthropology, from James Scott’s (1985) conception of resistance tactics as “weapons of the weak” to Lila Abu-Lughod’s (1990) idea of resistance as a “diagnostic of power,” still resonate in Palestine as the Palestinians are so clearly in a position of gross inequality in relation to their Israeli occupiers, whose power is hardly disguised enough to need a diagnostic. I have found Julia Elyachar’s discussion of how agency is embedded in infrastructure and infrastructure is implicated in resistance activities insightful. This is particularly salient given the peculiar status of infrastructure in the West Bank where, instead of facilitating connectivity, infrastructure is designed to impede and exclude flows—in this case, commodities of sustenance (Elyachar 2014: 460). I am primarily concerned with both Christian and Muslim Palestinians in the West Bank; while I did not have the opportunity to travel to Gaza, conditions in Gaza, including the shocking 2014 Israeli military offensive, affect political sentiments and actions in the West Bank, including resistance practices involving food, a topic I will return to briefly in the postscript of this article.
Local food and drink production and consumption have become sites of “agro-resistance.” Vivien Sansour, a journalist and activist, describes 78-year-old Abu Adnan as one of Palestine’s farmer revolutionaries, who “understand on an experiential level that healing for us as a community suffering from oppression and occupation requires the restoration of our sense of self—a self that is defiant but not defined by its oppressor” (Sansour 2010: 2). Dinaa Hadid cites a Palestinian farmer who, like Abu Adnan, envisions agricultural practice itself as a fertile resistance: “‘I don’t throw rocks,’ says farmer Khader, referring to young men who frequently hurl stones during demonstrations. He pointed to his rock-built terraces. ‘I use them to build our future’” (Hadid 2012: 3). I borrow my title from that of a recent article published in Al-Jazeera, “Resistance Is Fertile: Palestine’s Eco-War” (Brownsell 2011), itself a spinoff from the classic line by the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Resistance is futile.” Describing Palestinian “guerilla gardeners of the occupied West Bank,” the author quotes Baha Hilo, then of the Joint Advocacy Initiative, responsible for planting olive trees on land that is in danger of being confiscated: “We’re not a militia, our weapons are our pickaxes and shovels, our hands and our olive trees” (ibid.: 3). Baha Hilo was my guide during my five years as an intermittent “guerilla gardener” myself, as we picked olives on Palestinian land threatened by Israeli military or settlers. Here, I examine how guerrilla gardeners are part of contemporary Palestine agricultural movements and, moreover, are deployed as a new form of nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation.
Many years ago, at the height of the Cold War, I landed a job with the United States Information Agency as a guide for exhibitions about American life that toured the Soviet Union. The great Kitchen Debate between Nixon and Krushchev took place at the first exhibition, “The American Home,” in 1959. The year I signed on, in 1978, the theme was “Agriculture USA.”
Our stateside training took us to Illinois, where we endured ten intensive days of lectures on topics from agricultural credit and finance in the U.S. to plant diseases and new methods of irrigation. We also visited several mega-farms that demonstrated the latest technology. There was no question: American productivity would leave the Soviet farmers in the mud. I remember my first sight of an industrial pig farm—the huge holding ponds for waste, the cold, metal-slatted floors where a desperate sow tried to nurse her piglets comfortably. From the heartland we headed to the usda Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland, to learn about plant genetics and germ plasm. Our training ended at Esskay, a Baltimore slaughterhouse and sausage factory, which makes the official hotdogs for the Orioles and the u.s. Naval Academy. I can still hear the screams of the pigs as they were shunted onto the disassembly line.
My job in the Soviet Union was to tout the glories of efficient American agriculture to the poor, hungry Russians. And so, for a good year of my life I participated in—and to some degree believed in—our industrial food system. My thinking has changed drastically over the years (I think it began at that Baltimore slaughterhouse), but even though my politics and eating practices are aligned—we make sure that our meat is local and humanely killed—I’ve lately been troubled by how polarized the discourse about food has become. Either American food production is big and bad (“corporate farming,” “the agroindustrial complex,” or simply “Big Ag,” the abuses of which I’ve seen firsthand), or it is small and heartwarming—the farmers’ markets, the csas, greenhorns choosing the life of the soil over the corporate rat race. Our national conversation has descended into argument: Either you are on the side of might (the existing American food system), or on the side of right (the locavores or, as my husband the organic vegetable gardener calls them, the locabores). Both sides are blindered. Industrial is pitted against local; growers are either laboratory dependent or committed to “natural” practices. Such extremes lead to cynical decisions, like the waving of green and sustainable flags by corporations that are anything but environmentally concerned.