Food, Neoliberalism, and Social Control

By Andrew Mitchel (Department of Anthropology)

The Worlds in Contention conference’s presentations and discussion contained themes and arguments relevant to my research. As a PhD student in cultural anthropology, I am working on a dissertation concerning what I call the Latinx immigrant foodscape for Oaxacan immigrants living in Columbus, Ohio. I will examine the transnational flow not just of people moving abroad, but also the ingredients and dishes they buy, cook and eat in these communities. This includes passing culinary expertise and nostalgia across borders, as well as the balancing act between preserving foods from one’s homeland with the incessant Americanization of the immigrant diet. Neoliberalism has completely reshaped the reality for us all but has especially impacted immigrants. Arrivals to the United States from Mexico and Central America have been forced to seek employment abroad due to the breakdown of the local economies with losses to agriculture and limited manufacturing jobs. This has been caused by the expansion of global markets, centralization of economic control under a select group of actors, governments and corporations and free-trade agreements like NAFTA and its replacement, the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. This conference was a valuable opportunity to see how other scholars write and talk about neoliberalism in their work and create more salient connection in my anthropological work on immigrant foodways and diet to our modern economic reality. Continue reading