Holding Court is an interview series that features the authors of the new books on display in the King Arthur Flour café in Baker-Berry Library.
In this week's edition, we talk with Matt Garcia, Professor of Latin American, Latino/a & Caribbean Studies and History. He is a co-editor, along with E. Melanie Dupuis and Don Mitchell, of Food Across Borders (Rutgers, 2017). Their introduction sets the stage for a diverse group of essays, exploring how "the way we produce food, the way we eat, and what we eat have frequently hinged on the flow of people, foods, memories, and worldviews across borders." On Thursday, April 26 at 4:30 PM in the East Reading Room of Baker-Berry Library, the Dartmouth Library will host a book talk featuring Food Across Borders, with co-editors Garcia and Dupuis and contributor Teresa Mares presenting the volume. The event is free and open to the public, and promises to be a fascinating look into the intersections of military and/or labor history, trade policy, immigration, and digestion. And yes, food will be served.
What is your book about?
We seek to overcome generalizations about the ills of a globalized food system and the uncritical valorization of local producers to understand the history and possible futures for food production in a modern world.
Where do you get your ideas?
All three editors have been working at the crossroads of food and labor or food and digestion. We began to see that all of our approaches involved border crossings: either immigrants or food stuff moving over borders and bodies of water, or food breaching the barriers that separate the outside of our bodies from within. We thought others might be working on these same issues. This volume proves that our hunch was right.
What does research look like for you? What element of research could you not live without?
For this book, research required an appreciation of taste as a form of evidence. The unique flavors that constitute a cuisine also provide hidden clues to our pasts and recent transformations in our trade regimes.
What do you think the library of the future will look like?
It is fitting that the King Arthur Café resides in Baker-Berry Library, and our book is on display there! We believe that libraries will incorporate a more complete sensory experience. I recall using the music and video libraries at UC Berkeley as an undergraduate. I think we ought to imagine how tastes and smells can be catalogued and displayed. It may not be appropriate for every campus library, but one or some should consider catering to senses other than sight and touch.
What advice would you give to an aspiring scholar or writer?
Never hesitate to transgress boundaries. We radically transgress disciplinary boundaries in this book, which includes considering evidence (taste) that traditional approaches to scholarship might dismiss.
And finally, what do you read for fun?
I am currently reading books about how to farm. We own a 12.8 acre farmstead in Thetford, Vermont, and I intend to return cows to the land this spring. My favorite book in this genre is The Independent Farmstead by Beth Dougherty.