Beth Wangari Kamunge

image of beth

Thesis Title: Black-feminist food politics
Supervisor: Professor Peter Jackson and Dr. Daniel Hammett
Funding: Muiruri Wainaina Trust scholarship
Research

Project description

My research returns to the problem of whose perspectives, experiences and needs are prioritized in Food Justice research and initiatives. Previous empirical has demonstrated that white middle class communities tend to have the greatest input in setting the Food Justice agenda. Therefore, my research explores how Black-feminisms can deepen our knowledge of food politics. This has involved using critical, ‘participatory’ ethnographic methods (e.g. shopping for meals, cooking and eating with participants; spending time at allotments, farmers markets etc. with participants, complemented by repeat unstructured interviews) over the course of the year.

Research interests

  • Critical Food Studies
  • Black-feminist theory and practice
  • Visceral politics
  • Self/Other dichotomy
Education and Experience

Education

  • Master of Laws (LL.M) in International Legal Studies, The University of Sheffield, (2008)
  • Bachelor of Laws Honours (LL.B. Hons.), The University of Sheffield (2004-2007)

Additional awards

  • RGS-IBG Geographies of Justice Post-Graduate Award (2016)
  • The University of Sheffield International Academic Scholarship
  • The University of Sheffield Graduate Award
  • National Millennium Volunteer Award of Excellence
  • African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) young writer’s award

Affiliations

  • Co- founder, Food Studies reading group, The University of Sheffield Geography department
  • Committee Member: The White Rose Critical Race & Ethnicities Network, 2014-2015

Career experience.

Prior to my PhD I worked for 5 years as an Advocacy Programme Officer and later Grants Consultant, in two projects related to Gender, Forced Migration and Natural Resource Rights and Governance. Food politics and culture had been a personal (as the grand/daughter of working-class, small scale Kenyan farmers & general ‘foodie’) and background professional interest at the time. It was whilst working with communities along the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor in East Africa, that my interest grew. I saw first-hand how these communities experimented with “the Right to Food” enshrined as a socio-cultural Human Right, to resist ‘development’ induced displacement and resettlement. This issue was my initial entry into academic Food Studies, and has evolved over time to current interests in Black-feminist food politics.

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
Teaching/ Tutorial/ additional Workshop facilitation experience

Tutor: Research Design & Methods for Food Security & Food Justice (PG, Autumn 2015/16)

  • Facilitated 12 seminars with 10 Masters students in an interdisciplinary research methods module.
  • Provided feedback to students regarding their contributions to discussions and understanding of challenges and potentials of different qualitative research methods, to develop student’s in-depth engagement with relevant topics.

PGR Facilitator: Faculty of Social Sciences Achieve More challenge (UG, Spring 2014/15)

  • Facilitated 5 seminars with 20 first year undergraduate students who were developing their week long research projects
  • Provided initial feedback and assistance with reviewing different appropriate social science research methods; evaluated final projects and wrote reports that were used in the final classification of their grades

Tutor: GEO 163, The University of Sheffield Geography Department (UG, Spring 2014/15)

  • Provided initial feedback to 3 groups of 1st year students who were developing their conference presentations, for an annual Geography Department UG student conference

CV development, Careers Service, The University of Sheffield (UG, PGT and PGR October 2014- present)

  • Conduct 1-1 tutorials with UG and PG students on writing effective CVs and cover letters
  • Conduct monthly talks on how to write CVs and cover letters

Residential Mentor, Ranmoor Student Accommodation, The University of Sheffield (September 2014- June 2015)

  • Provided welfare support to 92 Home and International Undergraduate & Postgraduate students living in Ranmoor flats. This support included bi-weekly visits to flats, building rapport with students, helping to resolve flatmate disputes (e.g. about cleaning rotas, noise levels, guests etc.) as well as flagging up cases (e.g. self-harm, mental health issues, eating disorders, suicidal students) to the relevant Student Welfare team for extra professional support, whilst maintaining principles of confidentiality at all times.
  • Demonstrated the ability to maintain effective friendly relationships with mentees, whilst maintaining appropriate boundaries.

Human Rights Research Intern, Heshima Kenya, (Nairobi Kenya) January 2009- Sep 2009:

  • Developed and taught a Human Rights curriculum for Unaccompanied Asylum-seeking Minors (UAMs); workshops resulted in the book: “Rebuilding a common will: Poetry by the girls of Heshima Kenya” (Heshima Kenya, 2009).

Public Engagement

Lead organizer, the Critical Race and Ethnicity Network’s 2nd Annual Conference (to be held on 21st October, 2016)

The University of Sheffield, Inaugural Doctoral Academy conference (21st June 2016)

  • Participant, Images of Research competition:
    Image, “stirring intrusions”, taken in the process of my fieldwork, displayed with a set of other research images as part of the Doctoral Academy conference, with an audience of 400 registered participants
  • Designed and facilitated the 1-hour workshop, “How to make the most of academic reading groups”
    Workshop voluntarily attended by 30 participants (out of a maximum of 30 available spaces)

Lead Organizer, the Critical Race and Ethnicity Network Intersectionality Symposium on Decolonising the Curriculum, May 13th 2016 at The University of Sheffield:

  • Applied for and awarded £975 for the event (£225 Department of Geography; £250 Faculty of Social Science PG Forum; £500 Learning and Teaching Fund)
  • Symposium explored the various racialized, gendered, classed amongst other inequalities and oppressions academics and students face in Higher Education
  • Welcome address: Inequalities in Higher Education- What’s happening now? What’s next?

Co-organizer, 1st Annual Critical Race and Ethnicity Network (CREN) annual conference June 2015 at The University of Sheffield:

Faculty of Social Sciences finalist, The University of Sheffield’s 3 Minute Thesis competition (2014/15)

  • A competition aimed at sharing academic research in accessible language to a general/non-specialist audience in 3 minutes or less.

Co-organiser, Geographies of Food Reading group workshop, Geographies of Food and the Follow the Thing approach (March, 2015):

  • Half-day event featuring keynote by Dr Ian Cook and panel discussion with Professor Peter Jackson, Dr Megan Blake and Dr Matt Watson
  • Co-applied for and received £500 for the event

Co-organizer Critical Race and Ethnicity Network (CREN) Critical Methodologies Symposium (February, 2015):

  • Applied for and awarded £250 for the one-day event from Department of Geography
  • Event included presentations by, and Q& A with Dr Pat Noxolo (University of Birmingham), Dr China Mills (The University of Sheffield), Professor Pat Sikes (The University of Sheffield) & Dr Anita Franklin (The University of Sheffield).
  • Responsible for contacting speakers, organizing catering arrangements and creating marketing flyer. Assisted with marketing the event to various academic list-serves

Round table discussion facilitator, “Decent helpings: setting a local and regional agenda for food justice” workshop, ESCRC Festival of Social Science event (Nov, 2014)

  • A Food Justice research prioritization event. Facilitated one of the round table discussions, aimed at prioritizing food justice research needs in South Yorkshire