Food Across Borders: Production, Consumption, and Boundary Crossing in North America

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Comparative Border Studies at Arizona State University
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Food Across Borders:
Production, Consumption, and Boundary Crossing in North America

Recent criticism of our global food system has obscured a longer, and still healthy, tradition of food cultivation and circulation among nations. Our own national diets are a product of long-existing agricultural empires across the North American continent. This is especially true in relationship to Mexico: corn, chocolate and peppers are just three of the many indigenous foods that became central to the diets of other nations, including cuisines of the United States. North of the border, Canada has played a significant role in the cultivation of grain for both nations and is a consumer of many U.S. products. In terms of U.S. agriculture, without Mexican workers, our national food production system would not function. These conditions reveal a transnational project, north and south, which have existed for more than a century. Food Across Borders seeks to examine this world in which boundaries create exclusions and dialogs, coercions and collaborations. In our examination we hope to uncover both the ways that boundaries represent true divides in terms of rights and power, and also create and reify false categories of “inside” and “outside” that often do not fit the realities of our current food system.

The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies is joining with Comparative Border Studies at Arizona State University for the 2014-2015 symposia on Food Across Borders. On behalf of the conference organizers/editors, Matt Garcia, E. Melanie DuPuis, and Don Mitchell, we invite proposals for scholarly papers dealing with food and boundary crossings in North America. We welcome a range of interpretations, from the movement of people and goods across land and bodies of water to the passage of food over and through our bodily boundaries. We welcome proposals that explore these issues historically and/or in the contemporary moment. Possible subjects for exploration include:

• The dependency of the North American food system, from farm to food preparation, on the migration of guest and immigrant labor, and the effects of that dependency on source countries, cities, and villages.
• The ways in which climate change will result in the adaptive migration of agricultural ecosystems and social systems across northern and southern borders, and what that might mean for local, regional, and larger food cultures and practices.
• The public health implications for one nation when it embraces the food consumption and production practices of another.
• The ways in which media represent and reify the boundaries of territory and identity in food discourses.
• The challenges of cross-border food justice organizing in light of the "liberalization" of agricultural trade and the changing geography of agricultural production.

The Food Across Borders symposia will occur in two stages and in two places. The first will be held on October 3-4, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona, where there will be a workshop for participants and an opportunity to give initial public presentations of their work. The second scholars’ workshop and public symposium will be held in Dallas, Texas at SMU in spring 2015. Each Clements Center symposium follows a similar model and each has resulted in a book or a soon-to-be published book (

We welcome submissions from scholars of any rank—from graduate students to full professors. Please send a CV and description of an original proposal to Matt Garcia ( by September 15, 2013. The proposal, of up to five pages, should describe the research and explain how it serves the goal of the symposia. Eight to ten papers will be chosen for the symposia and resulting volume. For more information see either, or

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