Food and Carceral Politics

I am in the process of developing a project that looks at the intersections between food and carceral politics. This includes the following topical areas:

  • Political economy of major prison food providers (e.g. Aramark)
  • Conflict over food quality in prison
  • Agriculture and food prison industries and labor
  • Agriculture and food as a tool to reduce recidivism post-incarceration (e.g. green jobs programs, working in alternative food restaurants, food trucks, etc., horticultural therapy, etc.).

The first topic I am investigating is the prison hunger strike. I am curious as to what drives this tactic, the response of authorities, and its efficacy in meeting prisoner demands. I am working with a graduate student to develop a database of all newspaper coverage of hunger strikes in the United States between 1971 (year of Attica Prison uprising) to 2017. We will then trace patterns in coverage as well as trends/anomalies in the use of hunger strikes.

While peer reviewed journal articles will come from this project, the goal is to develop a book that examines the many intersections between food and carceral politics.