Graduate Student Members

Shaheen Amirebrahimi

Ph.D. student, Anthropology, UC Davis

Amirebrahimi’s emerging research focuses on the Slow Food Movement as it is manifested in its country of origin, Italy. His interests lie in how local formations of the movement, broadly aimed at transforming individual tastes and conceptions of food, change the practices of members as consumers in a global food market. More specifically, Amirebrahimi is interested in examining the transformative implications this movement holds for current exploitative and distanced commodity chains. He seeks to explore how Slow Food can be understood as a radical movement that acts “from within.” Amirebrahimi holds a B.A. in Sociocultural Anthropology from UC Irvine where he completed an honors thesis examining competing ideological and economic formations present at a local California farmers market.

Nicholas Babin

Ph.D. student, Environmental studies, UC Santa Cruz

This dissertation project is motivated by a concern to understand the effects of recent restructuring of the coffee supply chain on farm-households and agroecosystems in Agua Buena, Costa Rica.  Nicholas is interested in the ways these global neoliberal reforms “touch down” in time and space upon a particular rural setting.  He enrolls an interdisciplinary suite of evaluative concepts and methodologies from the political economy of agriculture, agroecology and economic anthropology in a community case study that enables him to test rival theories of agrarian change, evaluate the impacts of alternative coffee markets and agroecological diversification and unpack the cultural politics of resistance to restructuring in the neoliberal era.

Trisha Barua

Ph.D. student, Cultural Studies, UC Davis

Trisha’s project focuses on how popular grocery chain Trader Joe’s works as a cultural phenomenon. She specifically analyzes narratives of travel in Trader Joe’s messaging, the impact the company has on communities, and consumer/fan discourses on the ethos of Trader Joe’s. Broadly, this project uses Trader Joe’s as a vehicle to explore the questions of cultural consumption, the politics of race and class among consumers and workers, and gendered consumer subjectivity. Trisha holds a BA in American Culture and History of Art from the University of Michigan.

Melissa Bell

Ph.D. student, Critical Dance Studies, UC Riverside

Melissa Hudson Bell is a PhD student in Critical Dance Studies at UC Riverside, having decided to continue her studies after completing her MFA in Experimental Choreography there in 2009. Bell’s thesis work combined food and contemporary dance theater practices to investigate American female domestic identity in relation to the legacy of culinary icon, Betty Crocker. Her work as a professional contemporary choreographer and dance researcher has been devoted to examining the interplay between food culture and performance culture. Her current research examines the historical relationship between food and Western concert dance, focusing specifically on how the kinesthetic interchange between performers and audience members can be heightened through the presence of food and food-themed material in performance. Bell is a Gluck Program for the Arts Fellow, a Dean’s Distinguished Fellow, a Master’s Thesis Research Grant recipient, and a certified Pilates instructor.

In addition to her studies, Bell serves as the Artistic Director and Choreographer of BreadnButter Dance, a contemporary dance company in San Francisco. BreadnButter has been selected as Artists in Residence at Shotwell Studios (2006), Red Ink Studios (2007), and The Garage (2010), and Bell’s choreography has been featured at performance venues and food events throughout California. Bell is eager to connect with other scholars and artists interested in food-oriented performance and the ‘performance’ of food culture.

Joseph Bohling

Ph.D. student, History, UC Berkeley.

Bohling’s dissertation—“The Sober Revolution:  The Political and Moral Economy of Alcohol in Modern France, 1954-1976”— uses the French state’s anti-alcohol movement to understand more clearly the nature of the country’s transition from agrarianism to industrial modernity.  This campaign was the creation of important pressure groups, each with its own interest:  doctors who wanted to curb alcoholism; technocrats who wanted to build a stronger economy; luxury winegrowers who wanted to eliminate their cheaper domestic and international rivals; and road safety advocates who wanted to prevent traffic accidents and develop the automobile industry.  Medical discourse on alcoholism was a powerful weapon to wield:  it justified the state’s intervention in the economy.  The anti-alcohol drive contributed to reforming agriculture and to reducing overall alcohol consumption because it aligned the interests of the state, public health, high-end viticulture, and the insurance and transportation industries against small, autarkic producers and drinkers.  The anti-alcohol campaign contributed to the building of France’s modern state.

Danielle Boulé

M.Sc. student, Community Development, UC Davis

Boulé’s primary research interest is the culture of “healthy” food in low income communities, particularly communities of color. She wants to explore how (and by whom) “healthy” food is defined and how this impacts food choice. Danielle has a B.A. in Communications and Minor in Spanish from UCLA.

Katie Bradley

Ph.D. in Geography, UC Davis

Katie’s academic interests include community food security work, anti-racism activism, quotidian food habits, and family and community traditions. She completed a M.S. in Community Development at UC Davis with a thesis titled, “Food Logics: A Case Study of Dig Deep Farms and Produce,” which explored place-based values for food security work in Ashland, California. She works as a research assistant with Food Dignity, a national community food security reserach project support by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Katie has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh and a certificate in L’Art de la Patisserie from The French Pastry School in Chicago.

Megan Carney

Ph.D. candidate, Anthropology, UC Santa Barbara

Funded by UC-MEXUS and the Chicano Studies Institute (UCSB), Megan’s dissertation “The Other Side of Hunger: Transborder Food Environments, Health and Citizenship” examines food insecurity in the context of displacement and transnational migration of women from Mexico and Central America to the US. She analyzes the different forms of insecurity that shape the transborder experience, particularly in terms of food and bodies, and the intervention strategies by state and nonprofit agencies. She presents findings from 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork with Mexican and Central American women in the coastal region of Santa Barbara, California. She argues that neoliberal forms of governmentality typified by food and health policies of state and nonprofit agencies, render particularly gendered, racialized, and classed subjectivities and she problematizes the rhetoric of food sovereignty against current global flows of labor and increasingly flexible notions of citizenship, rights, and entitlements. In addition to the written dissertation, Megan is organizing a project in visual anthropology based on her dissertation research that is part ethnographic theater and part installation, tentatively titled “Transborder Ephemera: Women, Words, and Food.”

Megan is a founding member of the Santa Barbara County Food Policy Council and a nonprofit consultant. She has published in Food and Foodways, Agriculture and Human Values, and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development. She also has works in progress for submission to American Anthropologist, International Migration Review, and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. She received her BA from UCLA in Anthropology in 2006 and her MA in Sociocultural Anthropology from UCSB in 2009.

K. Michelle Glowa

Ph.D. student, Environmental Studies, UC Santa Cruz

Michelle Glowa is currently a third year PhD student in Environmental Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research interests include critical urban geography, agri-food studies and agroecology. She plans to develop her dissertation on the land politics of urban agriculture in California. She intends to investigate the development of land tenure strategies adopted by of a spectrum of urban gardening organizations in California, analyzing both their material results and impacts on property discourses with food justice and urban social movements. Her current fieldwork has focused on urban agriculture projects in ethnic Mexican communities on the Central Coast and the relationships between immigration, social marginalization, food insecurity and plant migration. In addition to academic work, Glowa remains active in local, national and international food and economic justice organizing. She double majored in Natural Resource Management and Political Science and minored in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Studies at Colorado State University.

Jennifer Goldstein

Ph.D. student, Geography, UCLA

Goldstein’s doctoral research focuses on the specialty coffee industry in Indonesia. She is looking at how the production of taste and domestic and international trade relations are co-constituted, and how this impacts the environment and livelihoods in South Sulawesi. Other interests include the politics of transnational fresh produce distribution in California, the cultural economy of food and fuel commodities, and development and conservation in East Africa and Southeast Asia. She is also exploring using multi-site ethnography as a methodology for researching global food systems. She currently organizes the UCLA Agriculture and Food Colloquium series. Prior to graduate school, she worked at restaurants in New York, farms in Italy and France, and a winery in Napa Valley. Goldstein holds a B.A. in Theory & History of Architecture from Barnard College and an M.A. in Geography from UCLA.

Kelley Gove

Ph.D. student, Cultural Studies, UC Davis

Kelley Gove is a first year student in the PhD program in Cultural Studies.  She is interested in representations of food and eating in book art, in the history of food science, and in the ways organic and fair trade foods are marketed in the U.S.

Sarah Grant

Ph.D. candidate, Cultural Anthropology, UC Riverside

Sarah’s dissertation, tentatively titled “Manufacturing Quality: Vietnam in the Global Coffee Industry,” explores the dynamics of coffee quality certification schemes, auditing, and foreign investment in contemporary capitalist-socialist Vietnam.  Based on 20 months of ethnographic fieldwork, this dissertation seeks to advance understanding about global industrial cash crops and the role of knowledge exchange between international “trainers” and locally based “students” couched in a rhetoric of constant quality improvement as Vietnam maintains its stronghold as the world’s second largest producer.  Ethnographic vignettes about World Bank training courses, quality auditing programs, attempts at international branding, and individual stories of success and failure in the industry further illuminate the underlying discourse of development currently operating in Vietnam.  Sarah holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin.  In addition to advancing knowledge in an academic setting, she looks forward to the possibility of bridging the gap between academia and the general public surrounding issues of industrial cash crop production and consumption as well as contemporary Vietnam.

Amie Breeze Harper

Ph.D. candidate, Geography, UC Davis.

Harper received her B.A. in Geography at Dartmouth College in 1998, and her Masters in Educational Technologies from Harvard University, in 2007, in which her thesis work focused on “performances of whiteness” on a vegan-oriented online forum. Currently, Harper’s research interests focus on the intersections and effects of geopolitical status, race/racialization, consumerism, capitalism, class, sexual orientation, and gender, on alternative nutrition and consumption philosophies of people in the USA (veganism, vegetarianism, raw foodism, organic foods, etc). At the moment, she is interested in how black identified females: 1) are educated to make their food and health choices, 2) are applying meaning and value to health and nutrition, 3) experience the effects of class privileged & white racialized consciousness, in terms of spatial and knowledge production/power within the eco-sustainable food, holistic health, and “cruelty free” consumption movements in USA and ; 4) perform and understand their sense of “blackness” and “liberation” through consumption (dietary and non-dietary).

Harper has written a chapter for the upcoming book, bell hooks reader (SUNY 2008), “Decolonizing the Diet”. She also has a book coming out this year, called Sistah Vegan! Food, Identity, Health and Society: Female Vegans of the African Diaspora in the USA. Her latest working paper is entitled, The Denial of White Racialized Consciousness in the Construction and Praxis of “Ethical” and “Cruelty-Free” Philosophy in the Animal Rights & Vegan Movement in the USA. Her work can be found at

Alexandra (Ali) Hendley

Ph.D. candidate, Sociology with Feminist Studies emphasis, UC Santa Barbara

Hendley’s research focuses on boundary work performed by private and personal chefs as they navigate ambiguous territory between the male-dominated professional culinary world and the traditionally female-dominated domestic sphere, home to not only wives and mothers, but also domestic workers. Specifically, she examines how professional boundaries drawn by the chefs (between themselves and other workers) may also reproduce social-structural boundaries (between themselves and other groups of people) along lines of gender, race, and class. Furthermore, her work explores how the chefs negotiate relationships with clients/employers, and how their acceptance or rejection of demands for emotional labor also contribute to their boundary-making. Hendley is broadly interested in gender, work, family, culture, identity, and emotions. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Southwestern University (Georgetown, TX).

Kendra Klein

Ph.D. candidate, Environmental Science, Policy & Management, UC Berkeley

Klein’s interests lie at the nexus of public health and alternative agrifood movements. Her work critically examines ecologically-based definitions of healthy food emerging in the farm to hospital movement, as well as the supply chain roadblocks and opportunities facing hospitals that are trying to implement new food procurement practices based on those ideas.

Within the farm to hospital movement, a growing coalition of non-profit organizations, doctors, dieticians, hospital chefs and food purchasing directors are leveraging scientific data to shift definitions of food-related health from a nutritionism model – eating the right balance of nutrients and food groups, to an ecological nutrition model – examining the health impacts of social, economic, and environmental factors related to the entire eco-agri-food system.

Here, human bodies are both flesh and metaphor – beset by a growing array of health woes attributed to agrifood systems, as well as the portal through which we begin to tell a different story about our relationship with agrifood and ecological systems. Our bodies become locations of resistance to the degradations of the modern industrial food system and sites that inspire transformation and change of food commodity networks, public health and agrifood policy, and notions of what constitutes healthy food. The locus of responsibility for food-related health shifts from individual bodies to the collective political body – from personal choice to social, economic and political structures of power that shape agricultural policies and practices, food processing and distribution networks, and the food environments that constrain and enable food access and choice.

Helena Lyson

Ph.D. Student, Sociology, UC Berkeley

Helena’s research focuses on the intersections of food accessibility, urban agriculture, and the changing demographics of urban food producers as they relate to a growing social movement of young urban farmers.  Her research seeks to provide an in-depth look at the urban farming environment in Oakland, CA and its relationship to alleviating local food insecurity.  By focusing specifically on Oakland’s food deserts and exploring the connections between urban agriculture and the emergence of young social-activist food producers, she hopes to shed new light on the contemporary dynamics of urban food production and food justice in Oakland.
Helena holds an A.B. in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Chicago where she completed an honors thesis examining the political development of green payment policies in the European Union and the United States through an exploration of the political decision-making process within a federal versus confederal political framework.

Stephanie Maroney

Ph.D. Student, Cultural Studies, UC Davis

Stephanie is interested in the way that cookbooks reflect particular notions of race, class and gender, and how discourses of food and eating construct group identities within cultural and colonial encounters. Stephanie has previously tracked the development and movement of curry during England’s colonization of India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her doctoral research will focus on cultural food exchanges in America. Stephanie also works with the Foods for Health Institute at UC Davis on project development within the field of personalized nutrition. Stephanie received her B.A. in English and Women’s Studies and her M.A. in Literature from Arizona State University.

Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern

Ph.D. candidate, Geography, UC Berkeley.

Laura-Anne’s dissertation investigates farmworker food insecurity in California, with a focus on immigrant gardeners and farmers. Her current fieldwork, located in the Northern Central Coast of California, emphasizes approaches from Critical Food Studies, Agrarian Political Ecology, Feminist Geography, and Critical Race Theory. As an undergraduate at Cornell University she completed an honors thesis based on her fieldwork, researching the implementation of the Green Revolution and possibilities for organic agriculture in Guatemala. In addition to her academic work in the field of food and agriculture studies, she has spent many years working on farms and with agriculture and food organizations in Guatemala, New York State and California. She holds a B.A. in Sustainable Agriculture and Development with a concentration in Latin American Studies from Cornell University. She recently publish an article, Pushing the boundaries of indigeneity and agricultural knowledge: Oaxacan immigrant gardening in California, which explores a community garden in the Northern Central Coast of California, founded and cultivated by Triqui and Mixteco peoples native to Oaxaca, Mexico. The practices depicted in this case study contrast with common agroecological discourses, which assume native people’s agricultural techniques are consistently static and place-based. Rather than choose cultivation techniques based on an abstract notion of indigenous tradition, participants utilize the most appropriate practices for their new environment. Garden participants combine agricultural practices developed in Oaxaca with those learned while working on California farms. This article provides an important example of the current articulation, construction, and deployment of indigeneity in the context of migration and agriculture, and its implications for immigrant opportunities and futures.

Katy Overstreet

Ph.D. student, Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz

Katy Overstreet is an anthopology student with a focus on food and agriculture in North America. She is currently focused on taking a political economy approach to understanding the systems of knowledge that inform farmer’s practices in the Midwestern United States. Specifically, she is interested in issues of trust, corporate coerciveness, and tradition in relation to agricultural methods and crop choices.

Tracy Perkins

Ph.D. student, Sociology, UC Santa Cruz

Tracy’s master’s research explored women’s pathways into environmental justice leadership in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Her findings called into question common narratives of motherhood as the most important factor drawing women into activism. She plans to build her doctoral research around the relationship between environmental justice activism and the farmworker’s movement. Tracy also directs 25 Stories from the Central Valley, which uses photography, theater, oral history, the news media and teaching tools to help educate the public about environmental justice advocacy (

Tracy has published in Boom: A Journal of California, LEISA Magazine, and Terrain, with forthcoming pieces in Organization & Environment and Race, Gender and Class. She does occasional work as a nonprofit consultant, and has worked for International Accountability Project, the UC Berkeley Labor Center, International Rivers, Hesperian Health Guides and Amigos de las Américas. Tracy holds a B.A. in Development Studies from UC Berkeley, a M.S. in Community Development from UC Davis and an M.A. in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. See more of her work at

Rosalinda Salazar

Ph.D. student, English, UC Davis

As a Ph.D. student in the department of English, Rosalinda has concentrated in 20th Century U.S. Literature, with an emphasis in Chicana/o writings. More specifically, food-centered fiction, memoirs, and autobiographical projects by authors who live in and write along the U.S./Mexico border, all represent a central part of her interdisciplinary dissertation research. By analyzing these authors’ literary and scholarly texts, she considers the many diverse ways in which food reinforces or discontinues certain ideas of space, place, identity, gender, and globalization, especially as these ideas manifest themselves within bordered traditional and non-traditional spaces. Most recently, her interest in spaciality and social reproduction theory prompt her investigation into the mobile food culture. Specifically, Rosalinda is discovering and theorizing the cluster of economic, social, and historical conditions that have “created” the food truck phenomenon.

Sophie Sapp

Ph.D. Student, Cultural Studies, UC Davis

Sophie’s research focuses on the impact of food culture on racialized and class-bounded subjectivities, with a particular focus on the Caribbean archipelago. Drawing from a background in literary studies and postcolonial theory, she works in French, Russian, and English, with attention to both literary and non-literary texts.

Sophie’s dissertation project seeks to address the “gastronomic economy” that attends movements of social change, asking how foodways and their inscription in material culture both reflect and construct the human experience of revolution. Her work seeks to understand the way in which food culture, as a daily, embodied practice, nourishes or circumscribes the thinking and enactment of liberation from colonial or postcolonial hegemonic structures.

Sophie received her B.A. in French from Reed College and her M.A. in Comparative Literature from San Francisco State University.

Stacy Williams

Ph.D. Student, Sociology, UC San Diego

Stacy is broadly interested in how cultural ideologies of gender and social movements’ political ideologies are connected to certain ways of cooking. Her past work has explored presentations of femininity and masculinity in cookbooks. Stacy wrote her American Studies undergraduate honors thesis at Northwestern University about the depiction of women’s roles in the 1943 edition of Joy of Cooking, and she has recently examined how suffragist fundraising cookbooks presented femininity and masculinity to argue for women’s vote. Her dissertation, “‘Don’t Assume I Don’t Cook:’ Feminist Use and Avoidance of Cooking in the Quest for Gender Justice,” will examine feminist groups in the U.S. from the suffrage movement to the late 20th century to study how the differences in feminist ideology and identity may have encouraged unique ways of cooking and eating. Stacy will examine how feminists used cooking (or discouraged cooking) as an explicit tactic that would help achieve political and cultural goals. She will also study the connection between ideology and cooking in feminist groups that did not consider cooking a tactic, for she argues that in such situations, political ideology and identity may still have affected the ways in which group members cook and eat.