Ashanté M. Reese, Spelman College

Ashanté M. Reese joined the department of sociology and anthropology at Spelman College as an assistant professor in 2015. She completed her doctorate in anthropology (with a specialization in race, gender, and social justice) at American University in 2015 where she also earned a master’s in public anthropology in 2013.  Her research examines food access and consumption at the intersections of race, class, and place. Specifically, her ethnographic research focuses on Washington, DC, where she situates the local food system as a “racial project” within larger sociopolitical shifts in U.S. food production and consumption. 




Embodied Inequalities: Race, Class, and Food Access in Washington, DC

In food studies, particularly in the United States, focus on health and fixing a broken food system often obscures the ways in which race and class are integral components of the food system rather than tangential additives. Using ethnographic and archival data collected in Washington, DC, this paper explores race, systematic divestment of grocery stores in Washington, DC, and shifts away from individual food production as interrelated processes that influence the contemporary food landscape. The paper examines the ways the neighborhood food system changed in three key time periods—1930–1968 (the establishment of a black enclave), 1968–1990 (white and middle class flight) and 1990–present (beginnings of gentrification)—and explores how these changes influenced both community cohesiveness and the embodied experience of procuring food and eating.