My research utilizes historical and qualitative methods to examine how marginalized communities are organizing against environmental and food inequities.
So far, my research has:
Documented how food justice organizations are challenging cultural assimilation, mass incarceration, and gentrification through urban agriculture programs that work with immigrants and formerly incarcerated peoples;
Detailed how the mobilizations of low-income communities are challenging conventional food desert politics and the Walmart/Obama alliance through underscoring that demand-side policies of living-wage jobs, rather than supply-side policies of low food prices, are crucial to addressing the structural roots of inequities in food access, and;
Critiqued public-private partnerships designed to close the grocery gap because their supply-side strategies do not fully address the economic access barriers in low-income communities that are rooted in institutional racism and political and economic marginalization.
Currently, I am pursuing four lines of inquiry:
Urban Agriculture & Urban Development
This work explores the contradictory role of urban agriculture programs as a way to address the economic and political marginalization of communities of color as well as a facilitator of gentrification-oriented development projects, a dual-function that creates tension between urban agriculture projects, community development strategies, and City Hall-led redevelopment projects. Such work also explores the community-based conflicts that emerge between urban agriculturalists of different race and class identities and how these tensions are reflective of differing conceptions of community, development, and agriculture, and with them contrasting visions of the urban.
Food Systems and Democratization
This line of inquiry examines how food-based activism is working to democratize the food system through democratizing the State. Of particular focus is how participatory budgeting, food policy councils, and community food assessments are transforming the relationship between food systems and the State away from Big Food and Big Ag towards regional and local food systems grounded in participatory and equity-oriented principles and practices.
Food Activism and the Carceral State
This research examines the myriad ways residents, community-based organizations, and racial justice organizers are utilizing food to both contest and create alternatives to mass incarceration, the youth control complex, and the new jim crow. Such scholarship focuses on efforts in California and New York to challenge the carceral state through living-wage jobs in the alternative food economy for formerly incarcerates people, youth farm programs as an alternative to juvenile detention, and rural development strategies that center on strengthening the small farm economy rather than relying on prison construction and high incarceration rates.
Food Activism and the Future of Food Chain Work
This scholarship explores how the activism of food chain workers for better jobs, particularly the Fight for $15, interacts with the efforts of Big Food and Silicon Valley to restructure the food system through automation. Given the initial wins of the Fight For $15 in California, New York, and Seattle, how is this movement responding to the possibility of automation? This project investigates whether food chain activists are resistant to, ambivalent of, or welcoming to the automation of work and how their position on automation shapes their tactics and strategies for economic justice as well as their political imaginary of what the future of food chain work looks like.