Adrian A. Smith on “Historicizing ‘Food Labour’ and Law”

The Tubman Institute, in partnership with the Institute of Comparative Law and the Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law, is pleased to present a talk by Adrian A. Smith, titled “Historicizing ‘Food Labour’ and Law” on Friday February 13th, from 1pm to 2:30pm via video-conference at York University, Stedman Lecture Hall 120E. RSVP to is encouraged but not required. Lunch will be provided.

A recent surge of interest in the contemporary relationship between food and (unfree) labour invites critical historical reflection. How have historians understood the relationship between labour unfreedom and food production through the ages? And what role does law play in these understandings? Surveying three prominent historical accounts on food and slavery — Eric Williams’s Capitalism and Slavery, Sidney Mintz’s Sweetness and Power and Judith Carney’s Black Rice — Smith examines the unfree labour-food-law nexus with a view toward historicizing the study of contemporary ‘food labour’ regulation.

adrian smith photoAdrian A. Smith is Assistant Professor in Carleton University’s Department of Law and Legal Studies. He is cross-appointed to the Institute of Political Economy and the Institute of African Studies. His research interests include labour studies and the global economy, migration, the political economy of development, social movements, and visual legal studies. All of his work is situated within an anti-oppression framework with an emphasis on antiracism and anticolonialism.

This talk is part of the seminar series, Slavery Old and New: Labour Exploitation Through the Ages and Around the Globe: This joint research initiative, a collaboration between the Institute of Comparative Law and the Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law, examines the legal conceptualization of labour exploitation. Through an interdisciplinary, transnational and historical methodology, this project will draw on a variety of disciplines, spaces in time, and places around the world, to explore law’s understanding of “labour exploitation” and its relationship to society and practices.

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