By Desiree Lewis

Desiree Lewis is Principal Researcher on the Food Politics and Cultures Project, funded by the Mellon Foundation and located within the Centre of Excellence on Food Security at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa.


Writing and research about food in South Africa has generated a wave of work on the gendered dimensions of access to affordable food as well gendered labour exploitation in cooking and food production. Like the increasing work on gender and food in other postcolonial contexts1, this research reflects diverse political and theoretical foundations. Some scholarship tends to endorse a development paradigm, explicitly or indirectly showing that dominant models for producing, processing, thinking about and distributing food should be mainstreamed or adapted to address the “food security” needs of subordinate and exploited groups, especially women (see, for example, Dodson, Chiwerza and Riley, 2012). However, as Megan Carney (2016) argues, “’food insecurity’ as a concept stems from an ongoing politics of knowledge” that naturalizes or ignores “political-economic or social problems …all the while dehumanizing those who suffer” (2014: 2).

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