May 19, 2015

What Are We Eating?

In Perspective

By: Rebecca McInroy

This episode explores historical and contemporary attitudes about the food industry and our food traditions. Our discussants share the major topics that affects the food industry today.

The Discussion

Tom Philpott is a Food and Agriculture Correspondent for Mother Jones.  While studying food and cooking traditions around the world, Tom noticed that American food traditions were being lost to fast food and food processing companies. Tom questions how we can hold onto our food traditions when so much of our food industry is controlled by a small number of companies and their lobbyists that manipulate the federal government. Tom discusses the regulation systems in place that still allow for potentially harmful additives in our food.

Raj Patel is a research professor in the LBJ School of public affairs at UT-Austin, and the author of “Stuffed and Starved” and “The Value of Nothing”.  Raj encourages the globalization of food traditions, emphasizing that many food traditions evolved out of the mixing of cultures.  Raj also focuses on issues of food and national identity.

Marla Camp is the owner and editor of Edible Austin.  She is motivated to bring awareness about food back into the community surrounding and connect them back to where their food comes from.  Marla emphasizes education as a way to strengthen people’s relationship to their food and to the understanding about the true value of food to our body.

What is your perspective?

Food traditions shift and change to adapt to the systems in place to get it to our dinner table. How will the food systems in place today affect our food traditions of tomorrow?

With all the information out there about what to eat and what not to eat, how do you approach the food that ends up on your dinner table?

April 2, 2015

Women, Gender, & Sexuality

In Perspective

By: Rebecca McInroy

This episode recognizes women, gender, and sexuality with a discussion of the complexities of gender and sexuality from contemporary and historical perspectives. Our discussants share what they’ve learned from their respective research projects, while exploring how privilege and power function in constructions of gender and sexuality.

Ultimately, they agree that listening with empathy to each other’s needs and desires demonstrates mutual respect and can allow us to have greater faith in our individuality.


The Discussion

Lisa Moore is a professor of English and Interim Director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at UT-Austin. In Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscapes, she explores how women of the Eighteenth century used the natural world to create artworks that celebrated their bonds with each other. On In Perspective, Moore helps us to deconstruct the notion of “woman” as part of a vast gender spectrum.

Thinking about the intersectional nature of identity, she asks: How do we determine who counts within various gender and sexuality categories?

Suzy Spencer is the author of New York Times bestseller, Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality. She brings frankness to the discussion of sex and desire, based on interviews with American men and women of different ages and sexual orientations regarding their experiences. Here, Spencer emphasizes the need for empathy and acceptance of alternative sex practices and unconventional attitudes about sex.

Ward Keeler is a professor of Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies at UT-Austin. He conducts field research in Burma, studying masculinities and transgender identities. Keeler’s understanding of Burmese norms of gender and sexuality expands the conversation beyond the U.S. context in useful ways.

He calls attention to the fact that in some Southeast Asian cultures, sexuality is not a central point of identification as it often can be in the United States.

What’s your perspective?

As we continue to struggle to achieve equal rights and protections for women and LGBTQ persons, it is necessary to have more conversations like this one about what gender and sexuality mean in the United States and internationally.  The issues brought up here are not exactly new ones, but they remain urgently important if we are to develop a mutually respectful, compassionate, and empathetic society.

March 4, 2015

Race In America

In Perspective

By: Rebecca McInroy

Race in America

This month’s episode recognizes Black History Month by bringing together several scholars for a discussion of race in contemporary America. As we look back on 2014, we celebrate the achievements of African-Americans, but we also find racial inequality and abuses of power and privilege that continue to endanger and oppress non-white Americans. We must also ask ourselves: Where are we, as a nation, in our ongoing debates regarding race? Among other inquiries, host Rebecca McInroy asks these In Perspective discussants which conversations about race are most productive to pursue.

The Discussion

Cherise Smith is a professor of art history and Director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Smith reminds us that while the effects of racial discrimination are very real, race is also a social construction that gets piled onto other issues of power and identity, including gender, class, and education.

Rich Reddick is a professor of educational administration and Faculty Director for Campus Diversity Initiatives at UT Austin. Reddick argues that we need to have more general conversations about race, rather than rely on reactionary discussions, in order to help us work through and understand ongoing institutional racism.

Eric Tang is a professor of African and African diaspora studies and Asian American studies at UT Austin. For Tang, race is a set of practices, which assign values and power to certain bodies based on individual daily life, as well as policy. He brings to our attention the significance of race in how Austin has changed over time.

Regina Lawrence is a professor of journalism at UT Austin and author of The Politics of Force: Media and the Construction of Police Brutality. For Lawrence, conversations about race begin with a shared language and a greater sense of empathy—something she finds lacking in discussions driven by social media where earnest conversation can be foreclosed by a culture of shaming.

What’s your perspective?

Race is a sensitive issue in this country to say the least. It is a complicated social construction that keeps us divided through institutionalized means, via the daily reproduction of social conventions, and via the easy reliance on harmful stereotypes. While we engage in this discussion during Black History Month, it is clear that race impacts all our lives regardless of how we might identify and regardless of how others categorize us. When we understand race in relation to power and privilege, we begin to see how it plays out in our daily experiences. How does race impact your daily life.