Nourishing Resistance: An analysis of the biopolitics of food systems in Brooklyn, New York
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This thesis investigates food insecurity in Brooklyn, New York, and its connection to the conceptual frameworks of the corporate food regime and Michel Foucault’s notion of biopolitics (Kelly 2013; Nally 2011). Biopolitics refers to the mechanisms through which power operates in the lives of the population through knowledge production and the establishment of social norms. Under the neoliberal state, biopolitics is materialized in the normalization of individualism, the consumption of processed food, and a disconnection between urban citizens and food production. In the context of Brooklyn, the biopolitics of the corporate food regime obstruct the population’s access to adequate and nutritious food – but also fosters resistance. According to Foucault, however, all resistance is embedded in the power relations it is combatting (Kelly 2013). This thesis will thus examine how biopolitics is contested, reinforced, and escaped by the food movement and those who are food insecure. Through participant observation, interviewing, and comprehensive analysis, this research uncovers both the overt and covert acts of resistance as well as the acts that inadvertently consolidate the market logic of the corporate food regime. It delves into the education programs, the creation of alternative knowledge, and the sense of community of a food aid organization as well as into the structures that still undermine the food sovereignty it is cultivating in its community. By evaluating biopolitics as a useful yet limited tool to analyze these practices, this research contributes to a nuanced understanding of the possibilities for transformative change within the realm of food insecurity.