News | 22 September 2011

Studies of Food and the Body MRP Moving to UC Santa Cruz


We are pleased to announce that administration for the UC Studies of Food & the Body Multicampus Research Program will be moving to UC Santa Cruz’s Institute for Humanities Research for the 2011-2012 academic year. Residing at UC Davis since its origination in 2008, the move will allow the program to flourish at another UC campus focused on agricultural production. For more details on the move, please see the announcement below from the Davis Humanities Institute.


Studies in Food and the Body MRP Takes Up Residence at UC Santa Cruz

In Fall 2012, the Studies in Food and the Body Multicampus Research Program will move from UC Davis to UC Santa Cruz. In residence at UC Davis since its founding in 2008, the move will allow the MRP to continue to thrive and produce exciting new research on health, nutrition, and the body at another UC campus focused on agricultural production.

The Studies in Food and the Body MRP brings together faculty and graduate students working in the humanities and social sciences from the University of California who are researching the relationship among food, the body, and culture. The MRP holds three main types of program activities: works in progress quarterly colloquiums, public conferences and events, and a graduate student dissertation retreat. Typically between 15-20 faculty and graduate students attend each quarterly colloquium meeting, in which two faculty present papers in progress for discussion.

The annual graduate student dissertation retreat allows graduate students involved in the MRP to share their writing and receive critical feedback from faculty both inside and outside their disciplines. “The group has most definitely supported grad students who most often live in disciplinary homes and don’t have access to multi-disciplinary perspectives on the field,” noted Julie Guthman, associate professor of Community Studies at UC Santa Cruz. “Having some of the lead figures comment on their work in the annual dissertation retreat means their work has a better chance of making an original contribution to the field as well as their home disciplines. We are particularly proud of the ways we help sharpen their research questions and core theoretical ideas.”

Sarah Rebolloso McCullough, Ph.D. Candidate in Cultural Studies and graduate student researcher for the MRP while it has been in residence at UC Davis, really appreciates her involvement in the research group. “I can’t say enough about how fantastic this group has been and how invaluable it’s been to my own work that deals with technology and the body,” exclaimed McCullough. “I’ve learned how to do interdisciplinary scholarship.”

Cover image of Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class and Sustainability. Photo credit: David Hanks.


Cover image of Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class and Sustainability. Photo credit: David Hanks.

The MRP also organizes a major event each year that showcases the work of the participants. “Tasting Histories,” the 2009 conference, enabled the MRP to partner with the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine Science at UC Davis to bring one hundred people together to talk about the relationship between food and history in a global context. This conference produced a double issue of Food and Foodways that featured members of the MRP group. In March 2011, the MRP held “Tasting Anxieties: A Symposium on the Question of ‘What to Eat?’” at UC Santa Cruz, which was followed by a reception and discussion with winemaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard.

In its residence at UC Davis, the Food and the Body MRP has helped UC Davis develop as a center for innovative research on food and culture. Charlotte Biltekoff, assistant professor in American Studies and current co-coordinator of the MRP, noted “Hosting the UC MRP on food and the body has established UC Davis as a place where cutting edge scholarship on food, health and the body is taking place in a richly interdisciplinary, institutionally supported environment.” Co-coordinator Carolyn de la Peña agreed: “UC Davis is now known as a place where food research happens across the humanities, social science, AND sciences,” commented de la Peña. “This is in large part due to the MRP which has helped us raise the profile of our humanities and social science scholars who work specifically on food and the body (labor, health, consumption).”

For the 2012-2013 academic year, the Food and the Body MRP will move to UC Santa Cruz and be affiliated with the UCSC Institute for Humanities Research. The move indexes the success and vibrancy of the group. “The move to Santa Cruz is a reflection of our effort and accomplishments so far – the group is strong and healthy and ready for new leadership. We are confident that the momentum of the group will carry through as the MRP settles in to its new institutional home and that many great things are to come,” Biltekoff commented.

Being in residence at UC Santa Cruz will enable the group to build on the particular strengths of the faculty and graduate students on that campus. Guthman noted that “many of the food scholars at UC Davis are located in the humanities and take cultural studies approaches, while those at UC Santa Cruz tend to be located in the social sciences and take political economy perspectives.” The move will ensure that no one perspective and group of students and faculty dominates the activities and research of the MRP.

“We welcome the opportunity to help the Food and the Body MRP continue the important work they begin at UC Davis,” remarked Nathaniel Deutsch, Director of the Institute for Humanities Research at UC Santa Cruz. “The MRP is exactly the kind of interdisciplinary, broadly relevant initiative that the Institute for the Humanities Research seeks to support.”