Decolonizing Foodways Symposium at 2016 SAEA National Conference

Photo by Jonathan Fong
Date, Friday, July 29, 2016, 6:00–9:00 pm Location: University of California Santa Cruz, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems Decolonizing Foodways Symposium flyer [click here] Food has always been central to the SAEA Conferences, with meals sourced from local, organic farms. Decolonizing Foodways aims to take our engagement with food beyond procurement to delve into the cultural, political, and economic history of food, understanding food itself as a site for colonial/decolonial struggles. The symposium will engage with the process of learning, using decolonization education approaches. Through the pedagogical medium of cooking, eating, and storytelling, participants will grapple with what it means to liberate our diets from colonial relationships of production and consumption both in theory and in practice.  We will emphasize educational methods and ideas that participants will ‘get a taste of’ and can bring home for further sharing. Building off the work of scholar/activists Luz Calvo and Catriona Esquibel, authors of “Decolonize Your Diet: A Manifesto,” we’ll explore and question what the process of decolonizing foodways means. We may ask, for example: How do we increase the vitality of oppressed and indigenous peoples, maintain the integrity of our ancestral traditions, and embrace food and ways of cooking/eating that resist subjugation and instead nourish our palates, bodies, and lives? How do we make sense of the different realities of lived food experiences across time and space, taking into account the influences of power and privilege? How might we think through the intersections of diaspora, colonialism, assimilation, generational differences, and food gentrification/cultural appropriation? Utilizing an intersectional,audience-participatory, and multi-sensory approach, this dinner-learning symposium will include a panel of activists and scholars and a freshly-prepared meal by local chefs who cook up decolonizing possibilities. We credit the inspiration for this symposium to the Decolonizing Foodways event hosted by the Berkeley Food Institute in Fall of 2015. In spirit and practice, our symposium will carry forward the goals of that workshop and will reinforce SAEA Conference objectives in multiple ways: through interactive participant engagement, through critical interrogation of food histories and cultures, and through mobilizing cooking and eating as public pedagogy. By breaking bread together we’ll approach eating as a subversive act, and food as medium for hands-on education. Program: 6:10 pm – Introduction to Decolonial Theory [10-15 min] Catriona Rueda Esquibel, Associate Professor of Race and Resistance Studies, San Francisco State University; co-author of Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-Based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and Healing 6:25pm Decolonizing Foodways [60 min, including 30 min discussion/Q&A] Panelists:
  • Catriona Rueda Esquibel, moderator
  • Ron Reed, Co-Founder, Karuk-UC Berkeley Collaborative; Cultural Biologist, Karuk Tribe (invited)
  • Gail Myers, Agri-Cultural Anthropologist and Co-Founder of non-profit Farms to Grow, Inc.
7:30 pm A Sensory Experience in Two Courses [60 min] Each chef will introduce their course and its relation to the topic of decolonizing foodways, and participants will discuss a set of framing questions with each course. Chefs: 8:30pm – Reporting Back and Closing  [30 min] Report back on learning experiences and actionable ideas/methods  (contingent on group energy) Speaker Bios: Keynote and Panelists Catriona Rueda Esquibel is Associate Professor in Race and Resistance Studies at San Francisco State University. Her family is from northern New Mexico, from Los Angeles, and from Sonora, Mexico. Dr. Esquibel lives in Oakland with her partner Luz Calvo, and together they have written Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and Healing, as well as several articles on queer Chicano cultural studies and reclaiming heritage foods. Ron Reed is a Karuk Tribal member, spiritual leader, and traditional Karuk dipnet fisherman. He works for the Karuk Tribe of California’s Department of Natural Resources as their Cultural Biologist. In his role, Ron develops plans for eco-cultural revitalization, leads youth cultural education camps, and fosters collaborative research at the nexus of traditional ecological knowledge and Western science. Ron plays a critical role in increasing public awareness about the impacts of colonization on the spiritual and physical health of his people and on the ecological integrity of the Karuk ancestral lands. In this capacity, he co-founded the Karuk-UC Berkeley Collaborative, and currently serves on the USDA’s Forestry Resources Advisory Board. His work has been featured in numerous news outlets including National Geographic. Gail Myers is an Agri-Cultural Anthropologist. For the last eighteen years she has researched, lectured, taught, wrote about, and recently filmed 30 stories of African American farmers, sharecroppers, gardeners, and a basket weaver. Dr. Myers received her BA from Florida State University, MA from Georgia State University, and PhD from The Ohio State University. She has taught for The Ohio State University, San Francisco Art Institute, Morehouse School of Medicine’s MPH Program, Morehouse College, and Denison College. In 2004, Dr. Myers co-founded the non-profit Farms to Grow, Inc., which assists Black farmers to maintain and grow their farms. In 2013, Farms to Grow, Inc. initiated the Freedom Farmers Market in Oakland. Dr. Myers has authored several articles including “Decolonizing a Food System: The Freedom Farmers Market as Resistance and Analysis” in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. Chefs
Aileen Suzara, Cultural Foods Educator and Founder of Sariwa – Culture is essential to health. Sparked by the rise of chronic disease faced by communities of color, Aileen Suzara launched Sariwa (“fresh” in Tagalog) to explore the potential of traditional foodways to heal the land and people. Her influences span family and diaspora roots, culinary arts, public health, and lessons from the soil as a CASFS alumna. Sariwa celebrates the rich traditions of food stories and ecological heritage, preparing and sharing fresh Filipino American cuisine. Follow on Facebook:, and blog
Saqib Keval, Jocelyn Jackson, and Sita Bhaumik, People’s Kitchen Collective (PKC), Oakland, CA. The People’s Kitchen Collective works at the intersection of art and activism as a food-centered political education project. Based in Oakland, their creative practices reflect the diverse histories and backgrounds of collective members Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, Jocelyn Jackson, and Saqib Keval. Written in their family’s recipes are the maps of their migrations and the stories of their resilience. It is from this foundation that they create immersive experiences that celebrate centuries of shared struggle. At PKC, meals people experience a sensory celebration with cooks, musicians, farmers, visual artists, performers, healers, and storytellers. The PKC currently offers a Free Breakfast Program inspired by the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, sliding scale Diaspora Dinners, and works with organizations such as the Smithsonian, Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD0, and Oakland Museum of California to produce political education projects. The goal of the People’s Kitchen Collective is to not only fill our stomachs, but also nourish our souls, feed our minds, and fuel a movement.