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Food and Immigrant Life: The Role of Food in Forced Immigration, Migrant Labor, and Re-creating Hom

29th Social Research Conference April 18-19, 2013

The conference examined the complex relationships between food and migration. Food scarcity is not only at the root of much human displacement and migration—the food industry also offers immigrants an entry point into the U.S. economic system while simultaneously confining migrants to low wages and poor, if not unsafe, work conditions. At the same time, food allows immigrants to maintain their cultural identity. The conference places issues of immigration and food service work in the context of a broader social justice agenda and explores the cultural role food plays in expressing cultural heritage.

We are also pleased to be collaborating with several organizations external to The New School to offer additional programming around the conference: the China Institute, the Korea Society, El Museo del Barrio, Feet in Two Worlds, and Streetwise New York.

To order the related issue of Social Research: An International Quarterly



DAY 1, Thursday, April 18, 2013


Throughout history, lack of food has led to population migration. Today migrant workers play a crucial role in food production, often working under extreme conditions and out of the public eye. Food Scarcity and Migration Arup Maharatna, professor, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (India); author, The Demography of Famines: An Indian Historical Perspective (OUP, 1996) Climate Change, Food and Livelihood Insecurity, and Human Mobility: New Findings and Implications for Policy Koko Warner, head of the Environmental Migration, Social Vulnerability, and Adaptation Section, United Nations University–Institute for Environment and Human Security International Refugee Law and the Right to Food James Hathaway, James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor of Law and director of the Program in Refugee and Asylum Law, University of Michigan Law School Moderator: Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, professor of international affairs, The New School for Public Engagement


In the United States, the restaurant industry and the agricultural industry, including the increasingly numerous farmers' markets, depend on migrant workers. They perform most of the hard physical work, usually out of view of the consumer, while their position in society is marginal at best. Dolores Huerta, co-founder (with César Chávez) and first vice president emeritus, United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW); president, Dolores Huerta Foundation Moderator: Saru Jayaraman, director, Food Labor Research Center, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education; co-founder and co-director, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United); author, Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press)

DAY 2, Friday, April 19, 2013


Migrants engage in small-scale food production and open small restaurants as a way of achieving economic independence and creating economic opportunities for their children. Migrant Workers in the Kitchen Saru Jayaraman, director, Food Labor Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, Center for Labor Research and Education; co-founder and co-director, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United); author, Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press) Migrant Women's Labor Ellen Ernst Kossek, Basil S. Turner Professor of Management, Krannert School of Management, and research director, Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence, Purdue University The Immigrant Restaurateur and the American City: Taste, Toil, and the Politics of Inhabitance Krishnendu Ray, associate professor and chair, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University; author, The Migrant's Table: Meals and Memories in Bengali-American Households (Temple University Press, 2004) Hipsters and Hot Dogs: Immigrants Selling Food in Public Space Sean Basinski, lawyer; founder and director, Street Vendor Project, Urban Justice Center

Session 3: Discussion

Moderator: Alexandra Délano, assistant professor of global studies and coordinator, International Center for Migration, Ethnicity, and Citizenship (ICMEC), The New School for Social Research; author, Mexico and Its Diaspora (CUP, 2011)

Your Food Is on Its Way

12:45-2:45 p.m. The Vera List Center for Art and Politics presents a project by artist Annie Shaw on the livelihoods of deliverymen in the food industry. Food delivery is part of the fabric of life in New York City, a service provided by a transient workforce that remains largely invisible to the public it serves. The very statement “Your food is on its way” omits any reference to those delivering the meals. This project exposes the material reality of four deliverymen's physical labor through the tools they use, the routes they take, the money they make, the languages they speak, and the food they consume.


Many immigrants cope with the dislocation and disorientation they experience by using food to re-create a sense of home and identity. This panel explores how migrant cultures produce and reproduce a familiar sense of place in their domestic environment through cooking and other food-related practices. Food, Identity, and Cultural Reproduction Fabio Parasecoli, associate professor and coordinator of Food Studies, The New School for Public Engagement; author, The History of Food in Italy: Place, Power, Identity (forthcoming) "Old Stock" Tamales and Migrant Tacos: Preserving Traditions in the Nineteenth-Century Southwest and Re-creating Home in Present-Day “Manhatitlán” Jeffrey Pilcher, professor of history, University of Minnesota; author, Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food (OUP, 2012) "Roti and Doubles" as Comfort Foods for the Trinidadian Diaspora in Canada and the United States Dwaine Plaza, professor of sociology, Oregon State University Re-creating the Chinese Home: Chinese Food Cookbook Writing from the 1910s to the 1980s Yong Chen, associate professor of history and Asian American studies, University of California, Irvine; author, Chinese San Francisco 1850-1943: A Transpacific Community (Stanford, 2000) Moderator: Hasia Diner, professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies and history, Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History, and director of the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History, New York University


A panel of notable writers read fiction and nonfiction in which food is used to explore community building, alienation, and assimilation among immigrants to the United States and other countries. The panel is presented by the School of Writing at The New School for Public Engagement. Panelists: Von Diaz, multimedia journalist, oral historian, and journalist for Feet in 2 Worlds Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of Somebody's Daughter (Beacon Press, 2006) Monique Truong, author of Bitter in the Mouth (Random House, 2010) and The Book of Salt (Houghton Mifflin, 2003) Tiphanie Yanique, assistant professor, School of Writing; author of How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf Press, 2010) Moderator: Luis Jaramillo, associate chair, Writing Program, The New School; co-editor of the journal The Inquisitive Eater: New School Food


BIOGRAPHIES Speakers, Panelists, and Moderators Sean Basinski is the founder and director of the Street Vendor Project, a member-based advocacy group for vendors’ rights at the Urban Justice Center and is teaching a community organizing class in the Metropolitan Studies Department at New York University. The Street Vendor Project, with a thousand active members, seeks to increase justice and respect for everyone who sells food and merchandise on the streets and sidewalks of New York City. Members believe that vendors bring life to the streets and safety to communities, and seeks more licenses, more public space for vending, and less harassment. In 2009, he spent seven months researching and writing about the informal economy as a Fulbright scholar in Lagos, Nigeria. In 1998, before attending law school, Sean sold burritos from the corner of 52nd Street and Park Avenue. Yong Chen is Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Chinese San Francisco 1850-1943: A Transpacific Community (Stanford, 2000). His research on diverse topics such as Chinese American history, U.S. ethnic food, and higher education has been published in various leading academic journals and has received much public attention in the United States and China. He is a main contributor to Civil Rights in America: A Framework for Identifying Significant Sites for the National Park Service, authorized and funded by the U.S. Congress. He is also a regular contributor to an editorial column in World Journal, the largest Chinese newspaper in the U.S and a frequent guest on ETTV, discussing issues pertaining to China, U.S., and Taiwan. Alexandra Délano is Assistant Professor of Global Studies and coordinator of the International Center for Migration, Ethnicity, and Citizenship (ICMEC) at The New School for Social Research. She is author of Mexico and Its Diaspora (CUP, 2011). Dr. Delano specializes in the study of migration from a political perspective, specifically the role of the sending state in managing migration, the limits of cooperation at the bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels, and the transnational relationships between states and migrants. Her research focuses on Mexican migration to the U.S. and the historical development of Mexico’s diaspora engagement policies. Dr. Delano has been a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Politics at The New School for Social Research and a Fellow at Yale University and has worked as a senior researcher for the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and as a Political and Economic Affairs Attaché for the Consulate General of Mexico in New York. Her articles have appeared in International Migration Review, The Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, International Migration, Social Research, Americas Quarterly and Migracion y Desarrollo. Von Diaz is a multimedia journalist and oral historian based in New York City. Her reporting and research focuses on immigration, Latino culture, Cuba, and LGBT issues. She currently works as the Marketing & Communications Manager at El Museo del Barrio in New York City. She was born in Puerto Rico and holds a dual M.A. in Journalism and Latin American and Caribbean Studies from New York University, and a B.A. in Women's Studies from Agnes Scott College. Her work has been published by PRI’s The World, Latino USA, WNYC, and New American Media. She is a journalist for Feet in 2 Worlds, a program of the Center for NYC Affairs at The New School. Hasia Diner is Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History, Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History, and Director of the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History at New York University. Hasia Diner's work has been located at the intersection of American and Jewish history. In a series of project since her first book which explored the ways in which American Jewish engaged with the issues surrounding the condition of black Americans in the early twentieth century through her most recently published book, which examined the ways in which Jews in post-World War II America went about creating a public culture that memorialized the Holocaust. She has been interested on the mutual impact of America and the Jews. She has ventured out from there looking in several books at the histories of other European immigrant groups in the United States and is currently completing a book on global Jewish migrations and the history of Jewish peddling, a project which takes her far afield from the United States. Her books include Hungering for America: Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), a nominee for the James Beard Award in the "writing about food" category. James C. Hathaway is James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Program in Refugee and Asylum Law at University of Michigan Law School. Professor Hathaway is a leading authority on international refugee law whose work is regularly cited by the most senior courts of the common law world. He is Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Refugee Law at the University of Amsterdam and Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne. Prof. Professor Hathaway's publications include more than 70 journal articles, a leading treatise on the refugee definition (The Law of Refugee Status, 1991; second edition forthcoming in 2013), an interdisciplinary study of models for refugee law reform (Reconceiving International Refugee Law, 1997) and The Rights of Refugees under International Law (2005), winner of the American Society of International Law's Certificate of Merit. He is counsel on international protection to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and founding patron of Asylum Access, a nonprofit organization committed to delivering innovative legal aid to refugees in the global South. Professor Hathaway sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Refugee Studies and of the Immigration and Nationality Law Reports and directs the Refugee Caselaw Site, a website that collects, indexes, and publishes leading judgments on refugee law from around the world. Dolores Huerta is co-founder and First Vice President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW), and President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. For her full bio, please visit the Dolores Huerta Foundation’s bio page. Luis Jaramillo is the Associate Chair of the Writing Program at the New School, where he oversees the undergraduate curriculum and the Riggio Honors Program: Writing and Democracy and teaches courses in fiction and nonfiction, and is co-editor of the journal The Inquisitive Eater: New School Food. Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC in New York, which has organized restaurant workers to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively-owned restaurants. ROC now has 10,000 members in 19 cities nationwide. The story of Saru and her co-founder's work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American. Ms. Jayaraman co-edited The New Urban Immigrant Workforce, (ME Sharpe, 2005). Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times' "Public Lives" section in 2005, and has been named one of Crain's "40 Under 40" (2008), 1010 Wins' "Newsmaker of the Year," and one of New York Magazine's "Influentials" of New York City. She authored Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press, 2013). Ellen Ernst Kossek was appointed Basil S. Turner Distinguished Professor of Management at Purdue University's Krannert School of Management and the Inaugural Research Director of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence in January 2013. Dr. Kossek is also currently Associate Director of the Center for Work-Family Stress, Safety, and Health of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Work, Family and Health Network, an interdisciplinary national research team collaborating to implement field studies that have the goal of reducing work-family conflict as a pathway to enhance employee and family health and organizational effectiveness. She has published dozens of articles in leading journals, and authored nine books and many chapters. Her book (with Brenda Lautsch) CEO of Me: Creating a Life That Works in the Flexible Job Age (2009, Wharton/Pearson Publishing) is a best-selling book on "flexstyles", e-working, and changing work-life patterns. This book has been translated into Korean, recognized by the Singapore government, distributed globally, and spawned development of the Work-Life Indicator with the Center for Creative Leadership. Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a fiction and nonfiction writer. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Witness, FiveChapters, The New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Slate, and she is a regular contributor to The Atlantic and Salon. She is author of Somebody’s Daughter, a Minnesota Book Award finalist. She has been a Fulbright Scholar and a fellow at MacDowell, Yaddo, and VCCA and is a founder and former board president of the Asian American Writers Workshop. She teaches creative writing at Brown and Columbia. Lee’s next novel is forthcoming with Simon & Schuster in 2014.

Arup Maharatna has been Professor at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics in India since 2001. Previously, Maharatna was Professor of Economics and Head of the Department of Economics at University of Burdwan, West Bengal, India. He was a Bell Fellow on Population Council Fellowship at Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies at Harvard University (1997-1998). Professor Maharatna earned his Masters and Ph.D. in Demography at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His books include: The Demography of Famines: An Indian Historical Perspective (Oxford University Press, 1996), Demographic Perspectives on India's Tribes, (Oxford University Press, 2005), India's Perception, Society, and Development: Essays Unpleasant (Springer, 2012). Jeffrey Pilcher is Professor in the Department of History at the University of Minnesota. His books include Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food (OUP, 2012), Food in World History (Routledge, 2006), The Sausage Rebellion: Public Health, Private Enterprise, and Meat in Mexico City, 1890-1917 (University of New Mexico Press, 2006), and ¡Que vivan los tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity (University of New Mexico Press, 1998). He also edited the Oxford Handbook of Food History. Dwaine Plaza is Professor of Sociology in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University. His publications focus on: return migration; remittance practices among Caribbeans; hybridity and segmented assimilation among second generation Caribbeans; migration and settlement experiences of Caribbeans; new internet communication technology (Skype, Facebook, and Email) as transnational bridges for immigrants living in the diaspora; Canadian immigration policy and its influence on flows of Caribbean people; sexuality and identity issues among the second generation; food and popular culture among Caribbeans;and elderly Caribbeans living in Great Britain and Canada. His current research looks at transnational caregiving among Caribbeans in the international diaspora. Krishnendu Ray is Associate Professor of Food Studies and Chair of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. Prior to joining the NYU faculty in 2005, Krishnendu was a faculty member and an Associate Dean for Curriculum Development at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) from 1996. A food studies scholar, he is the author of The Migrant’s Table: Meals and Memories in Bengali-American Households (Temple University, 2004), as well as several chapters such as "Exotic Restaurants and Expatriate Home Cooking" in David Inglis and Debra Gimlin, eds., The Globalization of Food (Oxford: Berg, 2009), and articles such as "Nation and Cuisine: The Evidence from American Newspapers ca. 1830-2003," Food & Foodways, 16, 4 (August 2008): 259-297, "Domesticating Cuisine: Food and Aesthetics on American Television," Gastronomica 7, 1 (Winter 2007): 50-63, "Ethnic Succession and the New American Restaurant Cuisine," in David Beriss and David Sutton, eds., The Restaurants Book: Ethnographies of Where we Eat (Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2007), and "Why do Ethnic Restaurants Have Terrible Service?" (2003). His most recent co-edited book is Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food, and South Asia (University of California Press, 2012). He is currently working on his next book-length project tentatively titled "Taste, Toil and Ethnicity: Immigrant Restaurateur and the American City." He serves on the editorial board of the journal Food, Culture, & Society. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr is professor of International Affairs at The New School. She is a development economist working in the multidisciplinary framework of capabilities and human development. Her current work focuses on international development agendas and human rights perspectives, the nexus of armed conflict and poverty, and global technology. Prior to coming to the New School, she was a Research Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government where she worked on the book on the political economy of agricultural biotechnology. From 1995 to 2004, she was director of the UNDP Human Development Reports. Created by Mahbub ul Haq to advocate policy options that expand human choices and freedom, this annual publication that tracks global poverty and development has been an influential source on policy challenges for politicians, governments, NGOs, media, and researchers. The 10 reports Sakiko led covered a broad range of themes, from globalization to new technologies, democracy, human rights and cultural diversity. She has had a long career in international development, starting at the World Bank where she worked on agriculture in the Middle East, and moving on to UNDP where her assignments included managing programs in East and West Africa, and leading policy initiatives for aid effectiveness and capacity development. Her publications, in addition to the Human Development Reports, include: The Gene Revolution: GM Crops and Unequal Development (main contributor and editor); Readings in Human Development (edited with Shivakumar); Rethinking Technical Cooperation – Reforms for capacity building in Africa (with Elliot Berg); Capacity for Development (edited with C. Lopes and K. Malik), and numerous papers and book chapters on issues of poverty, gender, human rights, technology. She founded and is editor of the Journal of Human Development, and is on the editorial board of Feminist Economics. She is also on the board of several NGOs that advocate human rights and technology for development. Sakiko received her BA from Cambridge University, MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and MA from the University of Sussex (UK). Monique Truong is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York who was born in Saigon, South Vietnam, in 1968. Her first novel was The Book of Salt (Houghton Mifflin, 2003)—a national bestseller and the recipient of the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the Bard Fiction Prize, the Stonewall Book Award-Barbara Gittings Literature Award, a PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles National Literary Award, an Association for Asian American Studies Poetry/Prose Award, and a Seventh Annual Asian American Literary Award. In 2003, The Book of Salt was also honored as a New York Times Notable Fiction Book, a Chicago Tribune Favorite Fiction Book, one of the Village Voice’s 25 Favorite Books, and one of the Miami Herald‘s Top 10 Books. Her second novel, Bitter in the Mouth (Random House, 2010), is the inaugural selection of the Ladies’ Home Journal Book Club and received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was named a 25 Best Fiction Books of 2010 by Barnes & Noble, a 10 Best Fiction Books of 2010 by Hudson Booksellers, and the adult fiction Honor Book by the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association. Truong is also a contributing co-editor of Watermark: An Anthology of Vietnamese American Poetry & Prose (Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 1998). Truong writes a monthly online food column entitled Ravenous for the New York Times’ T Magazine. She has contributed to Real Simple, Town & Country, Condé Nast Traveler, Allure, Saveur, Food & Wine, Gourmet, the Times of London (Saturday Magazine), Time Magazine (Asia edition), and other publications. Truong was a PEN/Robert Bingham Fellow, a Princeton University’s Hodder Fellow, and a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow. Koko Warner is the Head of the Environmental Migration, Social Vulnerability and Adaptation Section at UNU-EHS. Warner is a Lead Author for IPCC´s Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group Two on Adaptation (chapter 20). Warner researches risk management strategies of the poor in adapting to changing environmental and climatic conditions. She directs three research tracks at UNU related to adaptation: the use of risk management and risk transfer measures, social resilience and environmental change, and environmentally induced migration. Warner served on the management board of the EACH-FOR project, a first-time global survey of environmentally induced migration in 23 countries. She was Co-Chair of the German Marshall Fund project on Climate Change and Migration. She helped found and is on the Steering Committee of the Climate Change, Environment, and Migration Alliance (CCEMA) and works extensively in the context of the UNFCCC climate negotiations on adaptation (particularly in risk management and migration). She is co-chair of the German Marshall Fund Study Team on Climate Change and Migration, part of the FP7 Project "Climate Change, Hydro-conflicts and Human Resources" (CLICO), oversees the work of the Munich Re Foundation Chair on Social Vulnerability project at UNU-EHS, a network of seven endowed professors and a community of scholars working on related topics. Koko is the UNU focal point to the UNFCCC, focal point for climate adaptation and the Nairobi Work Programme. She is currently UNU focal point to the HLCP. She is a member of the UN´s Interagency Standing Committee, Task force on Climate Change, Migration and Displacement. Koko Warner studied development and environmental economics at George Washington University, and the University of Vienna where she received her PhD in economics as Fulbright Scholar. Previously she worked at IIASA, and the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). She has been published in Nature talks Climate Change, Scientific American, Climate Policy, Global Environmental Change, Disasters, Environmental Hazards, Natural Hazards, Population and Environment, The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, and other journals. She serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Global Warming. Tiphanie Yanique is Assistant Professor in the MFA School of Writing at The New School for Public Engagement and is author of How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf Press, 2010). Yanique’s writing has won the 2011 BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Fiction, Boston Review Prize in Fiction, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship and an Academy of American Poet's Prize. She has been listed by the Boston Globe as one of the sixteen cultural figures to watch out for and by the National Book Foundation as one of the 2010 5 Under 35, a list announcing the next generation of fiction writers. About the Directors Fabio Parasecoli is Associate Professor and Coordinator Food Studies at The New School for Public Engagement. Fabio Parasecoli's research focuses on the intersections of food, media and politics and his current work examines food and masculinity in movies and the sociopolitical aspects of food, international trade and intellectual property. Deeply involved in the international food studies movement, he is program advisor at Gustolab, a center for food and culture in Rome; he helped establish the Study Abroad program in Rome for the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana; and he is on the advisory board for the MA program in Food Systems at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona. Professor Parasecoli also teaches courses on food and media at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. Born in Rome, Professor Parasecoli is a former correspondent who covered politics and East Asian cultures while working frequently in Asia and the Middle East. He did two years of post-graduate research in China on contemporary Chinese history. Having grown up in a culture where food is a complex, contentious and dynamic issue, he gradually shifted his professional focus to food writing. He worked for many years as the U.S. correspondent for Gambero Rosso, Italy's authoritative food and wine magazine. His books include Food Culture in Italy (2004), The Introduction to Culinary Cultures in Europe (The Council of Europe, 2005), Bite Me! Food and Pop Culture (2008) and The History of Food in Italy: Place, Power, Identity is forthcoming. Arien Mack, the Alfred and Monette Marrow Professor of Psychology at The New School for Social Research, has been the editor of Social Research since 1970 and is the founder and director of the Social Research conference series and all other Social Research projects. She teaches and manages a research laboratory investigating visual perception. Her publications include more than 60 articles, a book, Inattentional Blindness (1998), and three edited volumes (issues of Social Research republished as books by university presses): Death and the American Experience (1973), Technology and the Rest of Culture (1997), and Humans and Other Animals (1995).

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