Dr. Kimberly Kasper, assistant professor of anthropology at Rhodes College, is a contributor to Black Food Matters: Racial Justice in the Wake of Food Justice, a collection of essays edited by Hanna Garth and Ashanté M. Reese and published by University of Minnesota Press. The book recently was selected for “Public Picks 2021” by Public Books, which is an online magazine of ideas, arts, and scholarship. Editors chose books that “dazzled, challenged, and inspired” them most over the past year.
Black Food Matters is a rich compilation of analyses and stories and a compelling read for anyone who is interested in understanding the past, present, and future of Black foodscapes and/or food justice collaborations within the United States, according to Kasper.
Kasper’s chapter is titled “Preserve and Add Flavor: Barbecue as Resistance in Memphis. She uses archaeological, historical, and ethnographic data to highlight how generations of African Americans shaped barbecue and maintained their community cohesion and culture but also critically acknowledges its cultural appropriation. She dives deep into barbecue’s historicity, materialities, and symbolism “to gain a deeper understanding of it as a tool of cultural, economic, and political unity and resistance in the region.” Fundamentally, she highlights how “the story of barbecue within African American communities can help empower and bolster more intersectional food-based solutions within the social justice landscape.”
Kasper’s research and teaching at Rhodes focuses on the ecological and cultural legacy of food. She also has organized events to raise awareness about food choices and sustainability.