Thinking race through corporeal feminist theory

Assignment on
Thinking race through corporeal feminist theory: divisions
and intimacies at the Minneapolis Farmers' Market
Writer: Rachel Slocum
Captured by Google Map ( Minneapolis Farmars’ Market’s upper view from google map street view)
Course Code:ANP-543, Course Title: Anthropology of Food and Nutrition, Credit: 3.0
Submitted to
Moni Paul
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology, SUST
Submitted by
Md. Irfanur Rahman
Tahmina Akhter
Reg: 2017224049
Reg: 2017224006
Semester: M/2
Semester: M/2
Department of Anthropology , SUST
Department of Anthropology , SUST
Presentation and Submission Date: 5 November 2019
Thinking race through corporeal feminist theory: divisions
and intimacies at the Minneapolis Farmers' Market
Writer: Rachel Slocum
“Thinking race through corporeal feminist theory: divisions and intimacies at the
Minneapolis Farmers' Market” is written by Rachel Slocum. She is an Assistant
Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at St. Cloud State
University . She received her Ph.D. in Geography from Graduate School of
Geography, Clark University, Worcester.
In this Article , slocum basically focused on Describing Race in different
perspective. She observed racial division and intimacies among farmers at the
Minneapolis Farmers’ Market. Then she had tried to explain her observation
based on corporeal feminist theory of Elizabeth Grosz.
So, The main thing of this article is Race. Explaining Race through practices of
growing, selling, purchasing and eating food at Minneapolis Farmers’ Market.
So what is race? “Race, the idea that the human species is divided into distinct
groups based on inherited physical and behavioral differences”. (Lotha, 2019)
Genetic studies in the late 20th century refuted the existence of biogenetically
distinct races, and scholars now argue that “races” are cultural interventions
reflecting specific attitudes and beliefs that were imposed on different
populations in the wake of western European conquests beginning in the 15th
century. (Lotha, 2019)
According to slocum Race is made and remade (in part) through the practices of
growing, selling, purchasing and eating food.
Consequently, some food practices are also ‘racial practices’. Drawing on a study
in progress of the Minneapolis Farmers' Market, the paper covers two sub-themes
of embodiment:
• racial division and
• intimacy.
The corporeal feminist theory of Elizabeth Grosz offers the view that the body
has explanatory power. This framework enables a discussion of the materiality
of race rather than its representation or performance.
What is corporeal feminist theory by Elizabeth Grosz? Elizabeth Grosz proposes
that the task of feminist theory is to formulate questions that generate
inventiveness. Feminist materialist theorists have been on the forefront of
theorizing the body in ways that acknowledge biology and society. They have
done so towards other politics. Exploring how race emerges, embodied,
strengthens politics by expanding the discussion of race to include more than
representation, recognition and intentional actions. What (anti-racist) politics
would follow when bodies, formations in which they act and bodily practices are
foregrounded?7 Grosz suggests that identity could be understood in terms of
bodily practices. Thus a politics of bodily practices against oppression should be
undertaken as a struggle of endless ‘becoming other’ in which categories of
action, not the struggle for recognition, are affirmed. She writes,
Without an adequate acknowledgement of the material, natural, biological status
of bodies (these terms being understood as vectors of change rather than as forms
of fixity), we lose the resources to understand how to best harness these forces
which invariably direct us to the future; we lose an understanding of our place in
the world as beings open to becoming, open to activities, if not identities, of all
types. (Grosz 2005: 89)
Race emerges
• through the movement, clustering and encounter of phenotypically
differentiated bodies.
• Through small segregations in which bodies move toward some vegetables
and not others And
• through attractions that propel bodies to touch bitter melon and talk with
growers, bodies shape the Market's meaning.
This reflection on tendencies connecting phenotype, space and leaves is meant as
a step toward a politics of bodily practice.
Rachel Slocum is an anthropologists. So for the purpose of this study, She doing
her research by participant observation.
“Participant-observation is the principal methodological component of
ethnographic fieldwork. The researcher watches people and their activities in the
social situation under study, gradually increasing participation in the culture as a
check on observations. In turn, continuing observation allows for greater and
more accurate participation. As the process proceeds, the ethnographer is able to
write field notes as a cultural participant as well as an observer, fostering richness
and complexity in the qualitative and quantitative data collected and analyzed.
Participant-observation may occur in projects that range in time from weeks to
years with the average as one to two years. Any physical setting can serve as the
location for participant-observation.” (Participant-Observation, 2019)
According to this Rachel went to the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market. It is notable
here that Minneapolis Farmers’ Market or North Lyndale Market is located at 312
East Lyndale Ave North, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. The three larger sheds
on the north side of Third Avenue are a part of this Market, which is managed by
the Central Minnesota Vegetables Growers Association (CMVGA). The three
smaller sheds on the south side of Third Avenue are run by the Farmers Market
Annex. The Minneapolis Farmers Market Annex is a privately run business and
is not affiliated with their Market. (Visiting the Lyndale Market, 2019)
Rachel identified many of the ways that different races and genders interact with
each other within a confined space. While many people may view the market as
a place of diversity since it undeniably is a center of commerce for people of
different backgrounds and identities, Slocum views it as a place full of internal
The market is segregated by gender.
Slocum argues that the neurological and biological differences between men and
women is something that can not be ignored. Even though race does not have a
“biological” difference as much as it has a phenotypic difference, gender and race
are similar in that it influences the way people interact with someone.
In Minneapolis Farmers' Market , It is segregated by race and gender ( Captured from Google Map Picture)
The market is segregated by race.
There are many foods that are associated with certain cultural backgrounds. Many
times people gravitated towards the table that sells the food that they are familiar
with. Moreover, there are some produce that are unknown or unfamiliar to some
cultures. A person usually will not visit a table where they do not recognize the
The market is not just segregated because of food, but because of dress.
The Minneapolis Farmers’ Market has become a tourist destination. It seems that
many people of color use the famers’ market as a valuable resource to obtain fresh
produce, while many, as Slocum found, white people go there for entertainment.
They want to see it rather than participate in it.
According to Latoya Wilson from his review for this article, “Slocum’s
sophisticated diction makes it hard for the general public to be able to grasp it. In
other words, she speaks in a manner that would go over an ordinary person’s
head. Furthermore, she assumes that the reader already has a clear understanding
of what corporeal feminism. She offers little explanation to what it is. I do not
think it is ever right to assume that the audience has prior knowledge. Every great
argument, or informational essay, contains in itself all the knowledge needed to
understand. I consider this her greatest flaw by far.” (WILSON, 2018)
Slocum focused on the scale of bodies to suggest that the concept of racial
embodiment as an emergent process of connection is a means to understand race,
food and the Market. She argued that despite the importance of social
construction and performativity to thinking race, these frameworks do not enable
a discussion of matter. Rather, the work of feminist materialists, particularly
Elizabeth Grosz, allows an exploration of racial embodiment through phenotypic
difference and the things that bodies do. Embodied differences among racialized
groups emerge through practices—growing, selling, purchasing and eating food.
These are partially observable tendencies of bodies that exist dynamically in
social and physical space. To think about race as what (phenotypically
differentiated) bodies do helps to analyze this food space as one in which people
are racially divided and brought together. Racial embodiment can be a means to
catalog the obvious, subtle, creative and changing forms of racism as well as note
‘what else’ happens in this place. She argued that racial divisions can be seen
through the production of certain plants by one racialized group and the clustering
of bodies around some tables and products. Playing out the intimate human acts
of food sale and consumption, different bodies display dismay, wonder,
frustration and delight. Race is one important part in the act of the encounter in
which bodies are central. The process that is race consists of bodies interacting
with amaranth, Market sheds, honey, other bodies and the Minnesota fields.
Lotha, G. (2019, January 21). Race. Retrieved from Britannica:
Participant-Observation. (2019). Retrieved from anthropology.iresearchnet:
Visiting the Lyndale Market. (2019). Retrieved from mplsfarmersmarket:
WILSON, L. (2018, September 29). LATOYA'S FOOD NEWS. Retrieved from
latoyasfood: https://latoyasfood.news.blog/2018/09/29/food-reviewnumber-two-thinking-race-through-corporeal-feminist-theory-divisionsand-intimacies-at-the-minneapolis-farmers-market-by-rachel-slocum/