Food and Carceral Politics

I am currently interested in the intersections between food and carceral politics.

First, I am studying the breadth and practice of prison agriculture in the US prison system. This includes creating a first-ever data set of federal and state-run adult prisons that identifies the types of agriculture and the drivers for this agriculture.

This has provided the basis to develop the Prison Agriculture Lab, where I serve as the Director. We have several current projects. One is a critical GIS map with layers at the county level to contextualize the economic, social, and agricultural conditions vis-a-vis prison conditions. Another is a satellite image gallery of the 660 state prisons we have identified with agricultural practices of some kind. The final project is a story map detailing the links between the disciplinary drivers of prison agriculture and racial capitalism.

Second, I am investigating prison hunger strikes. I am curious as to what drives this tactic, the response of authorities, and its efficacy in meeting prisoner demands. I have worked with Becca Chalit-Hernandez to develop a database of all New York Times and Washington Post coverage of hunger strikes in the United States between 1971 (year of Attica Prison uprising) to 2018. We are tracing patterns in coverage as well as trends/anomalies in the use of hunger strikes.

Third, I have co-edited a special double issue in Food and Foodways alongside Ashanté Reese. You can learn more about this work in our opening article, “Food and Carcerality: From Confinement to Abolition.”

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