ANTH Colloquium - Ashanté Reese (University of Maryland) “There Ain’t Nothing in Deanwood”: Toward an Anthropology of Food Access and 'Nothingness'

Monday, December 2, 2019 - 12:00pm

3260 South Street, Penn Museum Rm 345

Tracing the food geographies of residents in northeast Washington D.C., this talk is guided by two queries: How do Black residents navigate and produce space in pursuit of food, especially when there is “nothing” there? What do theories of anti-Blackness reveal about conventional approaches to food inequities? Drawing from ethnographic research in Washington, D.C., I foreground residents’ histories, memories, and agency as they navigate supermarkets, urban agriculture, and their support for Black-owned businesses. Theoretically, I offer geographies of self-reliance as a way to understand how self-reliance is used as a cultural framework to produce spatial food patterns that are shaped but not wholly determined by inequities. Ethnographic attention to Deanwood reveals quiet food refusals--the everyday decisions residents make to intentionally refuse narratives of lack often sutured to Black people--as a practice of both racial and spatial resilience that eludes the gaze of mainstream food justice organizations.