2014-2015 Events


Priscilla McCutcheon, Geography and Africana Studies
  • Date(s): Thursday, 10/9 4:00 PM to Thursday, 10/9 5:00 PM
  • Address: 701 S Morgan, Lower Level/Stevenson Hall
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Contact: Linda Vavra
  • Email: huminst@uic.edu
  • Website: http://huminst.uic.edu/
  • Phone: 3129966352

This talk focuses on one Black Nationalist religion’s farming practices in the rural South.  Specifically, I will explore how spirituality and black liberation informs this group’s understanding of sustainable agriculture.  I argue that through their farming practices, they are creating a geography of hope for black people.

McCutcheon’s post-doctoral project is “Food, Race and Space in an African American Land Ethic.”

During this fellowship year I will continue to develop the concept of an African American Land Ethic (AALE), specifically exploring the connection between urban and rural spaces, how hunger and emergency food fit into an AALE, and the connection between spirituality and the land,” said McCutcheon. “I argue that an AALE has meanings that are shaped both by historical and present-day experiences of African Americans with racialized physical and social landscapes. The lack of recognition of an AALE results, in part, from broader misinterpretations of the relationship between African American people and the environment.

The components of an AALE are not just separate principles that individual black farmers and food cultivators practice on a daily basis. Instead, they are tied to larger racial projects that are both a reflection of, and a response to, racial supremacy. I will continue my work with black religious food programs, with a range of racial and religious ideologies, all of which profess a spiritual and, I would argue, racialized commitment to feeding black people safe and healthy food. The commonalities and differences in these food programs reflect the complexity of an AALE. I will extend my research beyond the southern portion of the United States to black religious food programs in Chicago, many of which have an intimate spatial connection with the South.

Priscilla McCutcheon is an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut with joint appointments in the Department of Geography and the Institute for African American Studies. Her primary research focus is on the intersection of agriculture/food, racial identity formation, and religion. In her dissertation, “‘Heaven on Earth’: Race, Food and Space in Black Religious Food Programs,” McCutcheon examines racial identity formation and place-making through the lens of three black religious food programs that range from a black Protestant church’s emergency food program to a black nationalist Christian organization that is farming over 4,000 acres of land. During her graduate studies, her passion for food and agriculture never waned and she worked with community food groups throughout the South and The Virgin Islands on best practices in their food programs. During her free time, McCutcheon enjoys everything about food including growing her own food, cooking, watching cooking shows, and trying new restaurants. She earned her PhD from the University of Georgia in Geography and a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Georgia.



Virginia D. Nazarea
Professor,  Department of Anthropology Director,  Ethnoecology/
Biodiversity Laboratory Baldwin Hall, University of Georgia

  • Date(s): Thursday, 10/30 3:30 PM to Thursday, 10/30 5:30 PM
  • Campus Address: Institute for the Humanities (Lower Level / Stevenson Hall)
  • Address: 701 South Morgan
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Contact: Linda Vavra
  • Email: huminst@uic.edu
  • Website: www.huminst.uic.edu
  • Phone: (312) 996-6352

Why do seedsaving and heirloom gardening persist in modernity, and why do they seem to be spreading? Drawing on research on ole’ timey and immigrant gardeners in the American South as well as on indigenous farmers recuperating and reintegrating native potatoes in the Peruvian Andes, this presentation will explore biodiversity conservation as a social movement of a different sort.



  • Date(s): Thursday, 11/13 4:00 PM to Thursday, 11/13 6:00 PM
  • Address: 750 South Halsted Street
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Contact: Linda Vavra
  • Email: huminst@uic.edu
  • Website: huminst.uic.edu
  • Phone: (312) 996-6352

Public Lecture
2014-2015 Chancellor’s Initiative in the Humanities: Food Studies at UIC: Local and Global Issues


Raj Patel, writer, academic, activist
–  Research Professor, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin
–  Visiting Professor, Unit of the Humanities at Rhodes University, South Africa
–  Writer/Co-Producer, “Generation Food:  Breaking Rules to Feed the 21st Century”
–  Fellow, Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First

  In response to the ongoing food crises, the Group of 8 Countries launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. While the New Alliance appears to be little more than a project to privatize agriculture in the Global South, it is in fact part of a developmental project decades in the making, one that abandons the goal of basic poverty reduction, and settles for poverty with added vitamins. It is not, however, the only option on the table. The Soils Food and Healthy Communities Initiative in Malawi is one of many initiatives that takes food sovereignty and agroecology seriously, and demonstrates profound systemic alternatives to the way the G8 would feed the world.

2013-2014 Events

Spring 2014 programs
We are excited to present three foreign language feature films that each take food as a central theme.  The film screenings will be moderated by faculty in food studies, languages, and cultural studies.  We will focus on the use of food as cultural representation, personal identity, and historical subject.  Screenings will take place in the Institute for the Humanities, 701 South Morgan, Lower Level Stevenson hall at 3pm.  Each screening will be followed by a reception featuring film inspired cuisine. The receptions will be free but please register so we know how many people to expect.

Tuesday, January 29, 2014

“Tampopo” (1985, Japanese) at 3pm

          Cancelled. To be rescheduled.

“Zemlya” (“Earth”, 1930, Soviet) 

          Tuesday, March 11, 2014

“Babette’s Feast” (1985, Danish) at 3pm

Fall 2013 programs

The UIC Institute for the Humanities is proud to host a special series, “New Research in Food Studies.”  Food Studies is rapidly becoming an important field of research in the humanities. Inherently interdisciplinary, food studies addresses a range of issues including the history, culture, politics, of food as well as questions of environment, agriculture, globalization and social justice.

This fall the Institute for the Humanities will bring three young scholars to campus to highlight new and creative work being done in the field of food studies.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

             Tore Olsson, Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee

“Food, Farms, and Global Poverty:  Rethinking the History of the Great Revolution”

          Thursday, October 31, 2013

             Amanda Logan, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University

“Challenging the Scarcity Slot:  Building Alternate Archives of Food Security in West Africa”

          Monday, November 18, 2013

             Angela Jill Cooley, Assistant Professor, Minnesota State University, Mankato

“Let Them Eat Politics:  Food, Power, and Poverty in the Civil Rights Era”

2012-2013 Events

Brown Bag lunches take place the first Thursday of every month (*except as noted below) from 12:00-1:30 p.m. in the Institute for the Humanities, lower level Stevenson Hall, 701 South Morgan. The brief, informal presentations will be followed by discussion.

2011-2012 Events

Food Economies Brown Bag Lunches
Brown Bag lunches take place the first Tuesday of every month from 12:00-1:30 p.m. in the Institute for the Humanities, lower level Stevenson Hall, 701 South Morgan. The brief, informal presentations will be followed by discussion.

September 1, 2011:  Issues in Food Production
Molly Doane, UIC Anthropology
“Peasant Farmers and Petty Commodity Production”
October 6,2011: Issues in Food Distribution 
Paul-Brian-McInerney, UIC Sociology
“Farmers; Markets in Chicago”

Lisa Lee, UIC Hull-House
“The Hull-House Heirloom Seed Library:  Cultivating Change”
November 3,2011:  Issues in Food Consumption 
Anna Roosevelt. UIC Anthropology
“Evolutionary and Historical Issues in Food Production”
December 1,2011:  Teaching Food Issues
Alice Weinreb, Northwestern University

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 
Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, UIC History
“Managing the Body: Historical Perspectives on Vegetarianism and Alternative Diets”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Lori Baptista, African American Cultural Center
“Urban Ag Movements in Chicago’s Roseland Community”

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Phyllis Bowen, UIC Nutrition
“The Hunger Projects Epicenter Strategy: Uganda:  Experience from the Field”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Film: “Cooking History”  


NEW:  Syllabi Circulated at “Teaching Food Issues” Presentation December 1, 2011

These events are free and open to the public. Beverages will be provided. Parking stickers available for UIC West campus and non-UIC participants.

Preregistration is encouraged, either online, by email huminst@uic.edu, or phone 312-996-6354.

The CAFS group brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines and institutions to
discuss issues in the politics, culture and history of food.

Watch for: April 2013 conference “Hunger, Famine and Abundance:  Global Perspectives on Food since 1945”

For additional information contact Linda Vavra at lvavra@uic.edu or 312-996-6354.