This special issue challenges historians to think about food and labor by considering how not only producing but acquiring, preparing, eating, and enjoying food are central to working-class life and capitalist transformation. Its essays bring labor history into closer conversation with the interdisciplinary perspectives of food studies to explore how broadly and deeply food experiences and working lives shape one another. Contributors trace this relationship through a series of case studies from across the Americas, including discussions of Native American life during the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, African American food workers in the early twentieth century, Puerto Rican sugarcane workers under US imperialism, and the politics of fair trade.
Susan Levine is Professor of History and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America’s Favorite Welfare Program. Steve Striffler is the Doris Zemurray Stone Chair in Latin American Studies and Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Orleans. He is the author of In the Shadows of State and Capital: The United Fruit Company, Popular Struggle, and Agrarian Restructuring in Ecuador, 1900–1995, also published by Duke University Press.
Contributors: William Bauer, Sarah Besky, Sandy Brown, Rachel Herrmann, Felicia Kornbluh, Susan Levine, Sarah Lyon, Vanessa May, April Merleaux, Liesl Orenic, Sara Ries, Steve Striffler