Beth Wangari Kamunge


Thesis Title: Black-feminist food politics and epistemologies of ignorance
Supervisor: Professor Peter Jackson and Dr. Daniel Hammett
Funding: Muiruri Wainaina Trust scholar

Project description

This research explores black female perspectives to contemporary food politics questions. Whilst an impressive body of anti-racist feminist literature has been produced in the last few decades on food and race, or food and gender, there remains a paucity of anti-racist feminist food-related research from black women’s perspectives. Following the frustrations of other Black-feminists who have wondered ‘how many times this has all been said before’, this project engages a ‘critical refusal’ to re-state the need for Intersectionality. Instead it takes the relative absence of black women’s standpoint in critical feminist food-related work, as an opportunity to think through epistemologies of ignorance in the field(s) of (feminist) food studies. Overall it asks the question: what are black women perspectives on food politics and how can they contribute to contemporary feminist food studies?

Research interests

  • Black-feminist theory and activisms
  • Food justice and sovereignty

Education and Experience


Master in Public Law, human rights pathway (LL.M) in International Legal Studies, The University of Sheffield, (2007-2008)
Bachelor of Laws Honours (LL.B. Hons.), The University of Sheffield (2004-2007)
Additional awards

Career experience.

I applied my legal training to advocating with/for displaced Indigenous communities over a 5 year period, after a 9 month internship period. This was initially as an Advocacy Program Officer, and later overseeing a portfolio of Gender and Natural Resource Rights in the Kenya context for an international human rights grant-making organisation. It was through my experience with these communities, and lived experience as a farmer's (grand-)daughter that my professional interests in Black-feminist food politics were solidified.

Professional Affliations

  • Committee member The Critical Race and Ethnicities Network (CREN)
  • Member, Culture, Space and Difference Research Cluster, The University of Sheffield
Academic conference presentations

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016 (London) 30th August-2nd September 2016

Presentation: Eating as a research method (Friday 2nd September, 2016)

Inaugural Doctoral Academy conference, The University of Sheffield, 21st October 2016

Poster presentation: The everyday food experiences of Women of Colour in Sheffield…and why they matter

Contemporary Food Issues, 16th June, University of Brighton-Falmer’s campus

Presentation: Feminist possibilities and challenge in food-based research methods

5th Annual White Rose Doctoral Training Centre Conference, University of Leeds

Presentation: Engaging with food with Women of Colour in research about Women of Colour engaging with food

Academia and Affect, 3rd June 2016, The University of Sheffield

Presentation: How my positionality is shaping my research

Blackness in Britain Conference, October 2015: Presenter

Presentation: A black-feminist food scholar’s reflection on the mattering of black lives

The White Rose Critical Race and Ethnicities Network (CREN) Annual Conference,
June 2015: organising committee member & presenter

Presentation: Food politics in black-feminist spaces

RGS-IBG Postgraduate Mid-Term Forum, March 2015:
Presenter & participant in CREN roundtable

CREN Roundtable Discussion: The ethics of research and challenging dominant forms of knowledge production in Food Studies
Presentation: Food politics in black-feminist spaces

Inter-disciplinary research centre on Family Violence and Violence against Women Conference, University of Montreal, May 2011

Presentation: Gaps & Challenges to SGBV Awareness & Prevention efforts amongst Female Urban Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya

Population Council, “Economic Empowerment programming for Adolescent girls (December, 2010)

Presentation: Economic Empowerment Strategies: case study on Heshima Kenya’s Maisha Collective


(sample of latest):

Joseph, Salisbury, R., Johnson, A., Kamunge, B., (forthcoming- 2018) The Fire Now: Anti-racist Scholarship in Times of Explicit Racial Violence. Zed Books.

Kamunge, B. (2017). Intersectionality and food politics in Kenya Food Security and the Right to Food in Kenya Nairobi: Route To Food Alliance.

Teaching/ Tutorial/ additional Workshop facilitation experience
  • Guest lecturer, Geographies of Consumption (UG- 3rd year; Spring 2017/18)
  • Tutor: International Student Support Officer- Department of Journalism Studies (PG, Sep 2016- June 2017)
  • Tutor: Research Design & Methods for Food Security & Food Justice (PG, Autumn 2015/16; Autumn 2016/17)
  • PGR Facilitator: Faculty of Social Sciences Achieve More challenge (UG, Spring 2014/15)
  • PGR Tutor: CV development, Careers Service, The University of Sheffield (UG, PGT and PGR October 2014- Dec 2016)
  • Tutor: GEO 163, Information & Communication Skills for Geographers) (UG, Spring 2014/15)
Public Engagement

(sample of invited speaking engagements):

  • Invited speaker, Pecha Kucha Sheffield, Volume #25, Made by History, 19th October 2017. Invited by organizers of Melanin Festival.
  • Invited panelist, Black-Feminisms: Women, Belonging and Nation. BCU, 18th March 2017. Invited by Dr Lisa Palmer
  • Invited discussant of Erin McElroy’s talk (22nd Feb 2017). Invited by Dr Desiree Fields.
  • Invited facilitator, Lush Summit, Food Sovereignty room (8th-10th February 2017). Invited by LUSH
  • Students as suspects: British values, white knowledge and preventing terrorism through education, 22nd October 2016. Invited speaker. Presentation: “The Prevent agenda and white curriculum: symptoms of a system that is not broken” Invited by Dr. China Mills.
  • Gender, Place and Culture’s annual award for new and emerging scholars (2017)
  • Nominated by academic staff and students for The University of Sheffield’s “Best Postgraduate Student who Teaches” award in the Academic Awards (2017)
  • Nominated by academic staff and students for The University of Sheffield’s “Best Academic Mentor” award, in the Academic Awards (2017)
  • Facilitated the award-winning group in the Castlegate Fair-Food interdisciplinary research project (the top 8 students out of 256 students in the project). Award presented by the CEO of Sheffield City Council at an event in the Sheffield Town Hall (2017)
  • RGS Geographies of Justice award (2016)
  • The University of Sheffield International Academic Scholarship (2004-2008)
  • The University of Sheffield Graduate Award, 2007