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Good PhD programs for food studies, human-animal relations?

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I'm currently a rising junior at a small Midwestern liberal arts college. I'm majoring in anthropology and Spanish and I'm trying to find programs for PhD's in anthropology that might match my interests. I'm currently working on a summer project that deals with political economy of food choice (Marx, Wilk,) but I'd also like to tie it into animal welfare/human-animal relationships either toward the end of this summer or next summer. I might also do a variation of this project in Costa Rica when I study abroad.


Can you think of any programs that might have professors who do this kind of work? My advisor thinks it's too early for me to find professors because I still have two years of undergrad left and I might (will) change my mind about interests, but I'm super curious if anyone comes to mind. 


And, I don't know if these topics are too narrow. I've heard that when you're going into grad school, you need to have broader interests.

Edited by CostaRita
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  • 4 months later...

I'm interested in livestock production and applying to U Chicago.  They have some cool looking Animal Studies workshops.  Here's a link: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/animalstudies/ 


You might try departments that are interested in social movements if you have inclinations toward studying animal rights/lib politics.  This could mesh nicely with an interest in vegetarianism. 

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I was going to suggest UChicago as well! Check out Kathleen Morrison's work (she has done some work on vegetarian diets in India).


If you want to look at it from a historical (or prehistorical) perspective, there are lots of zooarchaeologists studying human-animals relations in the past.

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Look for people doing multi-species ethnograpy. That's the ticket.


Read this: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1548-1360.2010.01069.x/full

And check out the resources here: http://www.culanth.org/fieldsights/277-the-emergence-of-multispecies-ethnography

And look at this approach also: http://www.culanth.org/articles/745-witness-humans-animals-and-the-politics-of


All of those will give you a sense of where, in my opinion, the most interesting work is going on in human/non-human relations. You can definitely find a place for your interest in ethics in there. Social movement studies isn't a bad idea, there's someone doing a PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center now who works on animal rights movements, but it depends on how you want to approach it. Do you want to do it with a political economy and Marxist approach? Then the Graduate Center would be good.


I think you actually need to have very specific interests, not necessarily in exactly which topic you're going to do, but in how you want to approach that topic. Each department has their own flavor, and you need to know what you're getting into. It's kind of like a theoretical framework that the department tends to have - one way to find out about this is to email students in the department who are currently studying and ask them what it's like there. We did this when they applied and when they looked for schools, and we expect to hear from others when they're going through the process.


Also check this message out, it was recently sent out on the Environmental Anthropology email list and might be an interesting place to start looking for novel ways to approach this topic. And it wouldn't hurt to get on that list serve as a way to start scoping out possible schools, supervisors, and topics (http://www.aaanet.org/sections/ae/index.php/listserv/).



--------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 17 October 2014 07:43
Subject: seeking grad students in human-animal communication

I am looking for strong grad students who are interested in pursuing
human-animal or human-nature communication for both a 2015 (May or
September) and 2016 start. We have conducted a very successful pilot study
in teaching/learning mind-to-mind (telepathic) animal communication this
past August, and wish to build on that project. The purpose of our work is
not to prove that this kind of communication is real, but to more deeply
understand the importance and implications of knowing that it is. The
research is being conducted with the guidance of First Nations Elders and a
professional animal communicator.

Students can approach this work from a wide range of angles.
Interdisciplinary approaches are highly encouraged. Applications can be
found on the SENS (Graduate School of Environment and Sustainability)
website http://www.usask.ca/sens/ . The graduate School of Environment and
Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan is a dynamic and supportive
academic unit that draws excellent graduate students from around the globe.


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  • 2 weeks later...

This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but I know that the University of Indiana at Bloomington is establishing an interdisciplinary Food Studies Center. Dr. Richard Wilk in the Anthro department is doing some Food Studies research and is very involved in getting the Center set up. If you are interested in continuing studying Spanish, Indiana also has very strong language departments. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think the programs mentioned already are a great start. I'd add Arizona, Santa Cruz (check out Flora Lu's work), and Georgia. I'm a PhD candidate in Anthropology at UNC and I am several of my colleagues are doing food studies research with a focus on relationality and all that. You could check out our anthropology program as well as the geography department at UNC. 


I'd also add something to your advisor's comments. I would absolutely start looking around for professors who are doing work you are interested in. That won't necessarily result in working with them or even with you applying to their departments, but it would be a great way of finding what kind of research you like and what kind of research you don't like. Then, find out who they're citing, who is citing them, and you've got a list of people (and departments) that are of interest. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Laura Ogden at Darmouth does work in the everglades looking at gators and relations to glades-men. Other people that do multi-species work are: Eban Kirksey at CUNY in science studies... Stefan Helmreich at MIT anthropology, and Anna Tsing at UC Santa Cruz.

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  • 1 month later...

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