Assistant Professor Analena Hope Hassberg has published two book chapters that discuss her efforts to combat food insecurity and lack of green space in Black and Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles County.
“Citified Sovereignty: Cultivating Autonomy in the Urban Core” was recently published in the peer-reviewed anthology “A Recipe for Gentrification: Food, Power, and Resistance in the City.” The chapter discusses the relationship between the rapidly changing urban landscape in South Los Angeles and the ways in which racialized and class-based food processes impact environmental shifts and changes.
“Specifically, I write about a project that I’m honored to be a part of, the construction of the Paul Robeson Community Wellness Center in South Central Los Angeles,” said Hassberg. “This area, a historically Black and Brown neighborhood, lacks healthy food and green space but has an abundance of fast food, liquor stores, gas stations and toxic freeways. In my chapter, I discuss the Paul Robeson Community Wellness Center as a contemporary community-based endeavor to stake a claim in the foodscape and assert rights to space and place in the rapidly developing city of Los Angeles.”
Her other book chapter, “Nurturing the Revolution” was recently published in the peer-reviewed anthology “Black Food Matters: Racial Justice in the Wake of Food Justice.” In her chapter, she covers the history and contemporary relevance of the Black Panther Party, who were among the first to frame the relationship between race, advanced capitalism, food access and health outcomes in the urban core. She specifically examines the Black Panther Party’s pioneering food programs and how they helped to sow the early seeds of today’s food justice movement.
The book chapters come at a time when the country is grappling with social justice and equity issues.
“I hope that these pieces help readers to understand the relationship between race, space, food and health,” said Hassberg. “I think studying the roots of the food justice movement helps us contextualize present-day activism and demonstrates that food has been used as a tool of oppression and resistance across cultures since the beginning of recorded history. I hope that my work encourages others to take up more food-based and resistance-based questions to help us make sense of our rapidly changing world.”
Hassberg has two additional publications coming out later this year, including “Down to Earth: Healing Prison Trauma through Soil and Circle” and the introduction to “We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Black Farming, Land and Memory.”
“So many of us are experiencing shifts and changes in our neighborhoods, but we don’t always have the language or tools to fully understand what is happening. I think food is an especially helpful lens because many times, these shifts and changes in our neighborhoods are signaled through food,” she added.
Hassberg joined the Department of Ethnic and Women’s Studies at Cal Poly Pomona during the 2015-2016 academic year. Prior to CPP, she earned her Ph.D. and master’s degree in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. She is a scholar, activist and educator committed to organizing low-income communities of color around food justice and environmental justice. She is also a Ford Foundation Predoctoral and Dissertation Fellow, and an active member of several community-based organizations throughout Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area. Her research investigates and complicates notions of food security and food sovereignty, and situates food as central to freedom struggles and liberation movements.
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