Fuego y Leña // Slow Burn: Food, Justice, and Sovereignty in the Americas

Fuego y Leña // Slow Burn: Food, Justice, and Sovereignty in the Americas

April 30 and May 1, 2020


University of Maryland, College Park, MD




Call for papers

It is dawn. The hut is already filled with smoke. Carefully, the woman adds another leña to the fuego. She blows the embers and waits until they burn slowly. The food on the stove will feed her family for another day.

The struggles of so many solitary women combating hunger and negligence in the Americas connect our reflection on food and justice. It is collectively however that people from Latin America and the Caribbean have found ways to resist injustice. Peasant and indigenous Latin American communities have been fighting for the right to plant their own seeds, challenging agricultural monopolies, and demanding for “food sovereignty” (soberania alimentaria). Organized women in soup kitchens challenged neoliberal and dictatorial governments through collective cooking, feeding their communities, destabilizing the private and the public.

Food is foundational to society, culture, and the individual body. Harvesting, rearing, cooking, and eating are not only deeply social and communal acts but also political endeavors that make manifest societal inequities. From the smallest family unit to the global stage, food is an issue of justice. Food sovereignty is central to the ways we think about the environment and the challenges of sustainability in the 21st century. Food is a radically destabilizing category that challenges established binaries between human and nonhuman, nature and culture, and animate and inanimate. Food is a marker of identity and an opportunity for creative expression enabling artists to develop and deliver a multisensory experience.

Conceptualizing food from a transnational perspective illuminates the imbalances of power between colonial trade practices and colonized groups, North and South, theory and practice. Transnational perspectives speaks to the collaborations and conflicts that emerge at the cross-national, gender, racial, generational connections throughout the Americas.

Slow burn - A fuego lento - Em fogo baixo

Slow burn is an image that refers to a careful process of cooking. It represents patience, ancestral knowledge, the simmering pot. This conference invites us to question how slow-burn -- as a method-- can improve our practices, challenge our politics, slow-down vertiginous modern times to reflect on our historical, present, and future realities. What does it mean for justice to be on a slow burn? How does placing the myriad issues surrounding food on a slow burn move us closer to justice?

We welcome traditional contributions as well as those that take creative, interdisciplinary, and experimental forms. Topics may include but are not restricted to:

Food rituals and customs
• Trade, production, consumption of commodities, and global capitalism
• Migration, diaspora, and hybridization of culinary cultures
• Negotiation and ways of resistance: agency in food practices
• Representation and ideologies: nostalgia, tradition, and authenticity
• Nutritional, economic, political, and ecological impacts on global foodways
• Health and food practices
• Exploitative food systems, hunger, and resilience
• Land, agriculture, technologies, and natural resources
• Eating places and spaces: home, restaurant, workplace
• Gendered practices of food
• Food and religion
• Food, literature, and language
• Food, media, and digital humanities
We invite participants to explore elements of the theme in Latin America, the Caribbean, and among Latin Americans and Latinxs living in the United States or elsewhere in the world. We encourage contributions that propose solidarities between disciplines and types of knowledge.

The conference features a keynote panel with scholars, community members, artists, and activists. It includes graduate and undergraduate student research panels and innovative sessions offering different ways of exchanging ideas.

Proposal Guidelines:

• Up to 250-word abstract
• Up to 5 keywords
• 50-word biography of presenters
• Indicate the format of your proposed contribution: individual paper, panel, roundtable discussion, artistic performance, or any alternative format.
• Describe your audio-visual needs
• Please submit your proposal by MARCH 1, 2020 to lasc@umd.edu


We welcome contributions in English, Spanish, Spanglish, Portuguese, French, or Creole. Proposal decision notifications will be emailed by March 16, 2020. Inquiries may be sent to the Latin American Studies Center at the University of Maryland, lasc@umd.edu.