When you mix the subjects of women and food, you get an exciting result, as University of Alberta's Chloe Taylor, a feminist scholar from Women's Studies and Philosophy, recently discovered.
Taylor organized an interdisciplinary conference from September 14 to 16 at the Banff Centre for scholars from North American universities to discuss how feminism and food intersect as academic studies.
Participants, primarily from the University of Alberta and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, met in the mountains for the inaugural event of an ongoing collaboration across disciplines in the feminist studies field between the two institutions.
“When Kelly Oliver, who’s a known feminist scholar, visited the U of A last January from Vanderbilt, we decided we wanted to start a sister relationship between our two universities,” Taylor said.
“This year, we chose the topic of women and food, [which is] an area that I’m already working on,” she said.
Scholars at the conference came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including philosophy, women’s studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, and English, to name a few.
The panels and discussions at the conference were diverse.
“Lots of people hear the topic and don’t think it relates to their own area, and then they learn more and realize it connects to their work after all,” Taylor said.
“It can be approached through so many different areas, for example, gender roles, the environment, the impact of global warming on women farmers, who purchases and prepares food. Some people were presenting on fat and obesity studies, one of my colleagues in Women's Studies, Susanne Luhmann, talked about the representation of female guards during the Holocaust and related this work to food memories and food traumas.”
Taylor was especially excited about the results of the conference because of a brand new course she’s teaching next semester on women and food.
“Every paper gave me ideas. I’m planning this course for next semester, I’ve never taught it before, and I was given all kinds of ideas and directions for reading and information,” she said.
Taylor said that the conference was very successful, and she looks forward to future collaborations like this one with Vanderbilt University.