“Food Thinkers: An exploration of British food activism through oral history” with Lauren Blake

Lauren Blake- Breaking down the personal and professional: an exploration of British food activism through oral history

About the talk: Over the last several decades, fueled at regular intervals by food scares amongst other phenomena, there has been considerable growth in consumer and civil society food movements in Britain. From trade, agriculture and animal welfare to diet and public health, how united or disconnected are these multiple movements, dealing with a wide range of overlapping issues in the food system? Who are the people driving these campaigns and policy changes? Through oral history interviews, the activists not only document the recent history of British food movements, but also explore their political engagements and personal relationships with food, interwoven with their professional contributions to the political landscape of food activism. What can oral history shed light on (and keep in the shade) that other research methods and data cannot? This talk is based on a forthcoming oral history collection in the British Library’s sound archive.

About the speaker: Lauren is currently a teaching fellow at LCIRAH/RVH for the IFSTAL programme. She graduated from SOAS with an MA in the Anthropology of Food, conducting research on malnutrition, gender and intervention programmes with agricultural communities in rural Guatemala. Whilst at SOAS she also did some research on food labelling for the Social Science Research Unit of the Food Standards Agency. Lauren’s PhD (forthcoming), at the University of Sheffield and in collaboration with the British Library, is based on in-depth oral history interviews and ethnography with UK based food activists, campaigners and policy makers. The recorded interviews form a new public sound archive at the British Library.