Dr. Rebecca de Souza: "The Stigma of Hunger"
Time & Location
About the Event
Join us on December 3 from 4-5:30pm CST for an engaging talk from Dr. Rebecca de Souza, professor at University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Dr. Rebecca de Souza: The Stigma of Hunger
Date/Time: December 3, 2020 from 4-5:30pm CST
Fifty million people in the United States experience hunger and food insecurity each year. In the US hunger is managed through inadequate government benefits, food banks, private philanthropy, and other charitable mechanisms rather than structural solutions. Food charity is an inadequate and undignified solution to the structural and racial problem of hunger. Clayton, an African American man, a dad, an artist, and a food pantry client says poignantly: “Just because people need food it doesn’t mean that they need any old food… That’s just like tossing a bone to the dog with no meat on it. You don’t know how long that bone sat on the kitchen table.” Drawing on her book Feeding the Other: Whiteness, Privilege, and Neoliberal Stigma in Food Pantries (MIT Press, 2019), de Souza shows how food pantries stigmatize their clients through a discourse that emphasizes hard work, self-help, and economic productivity rather than food justice. Charity depoliticizes the issue of hunger by framing it as a personal problem rather than a systemic one. Situated against the backdrop of an unjust food system, the talk elucidates how deeply held ideologies are expressed in language and influence food pantry practices, policies, and environments. The talk will offer suggestions for how communication can be used to move the enormous food banking institution -- which food activist Andy Fisher calls “Big Hunger” -- in the direction of food justice.
About Dr. Rebecca de Souza
Rebecca de Souza is a Professor of Communication at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Her research is concerned with how political and economic systems impact health, access to food, and social inequalities. The overarching goal of her research is to understand the emancipatory potential of communication and to identify how the discipline of communication can be answerable to the practical problems of socio-political life, Her research over the last fifteen years has revolved around the themes of health, medicine, food, marginality, and culture. Her work has been published in top-tier communication journals such as Communication Theory, Health Communication, and International Journal of Communication as well as in interdisciplinary journals such as the American Journal of Health Education, BMC Public Health, and Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. Dr. de Souza is a publicly-engaged scholar, who has brought her work to national and international attention through op-eds, podcasts, and other venues.