Ableism and its discontents: Food as a form of power, control, and resistance among disabled people living in U.S. Institutions

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Abstract

Food insecurity is a significant problem in the U.S., disproportionately impacting people with disabilities. Yet, little scholarship exists about disability and food, particularly on people in institutions, with even less from disabled people’s perspectives. This article presents two ethnographic examples from different types of “community placements.” These first-hand accounts by disabled people explore the shape that food insecurity takes in different institutional group-home settings, and how one balances the competing needs of health and freedom. They demonstrate how notions of power, control, and resistance, and underlying ableist assumptions about “appropriate bodies,” play out on a day-to-day basis. They highlight an acute awareness by the occupants themselves of these power dynamics and thus, how cautious they were to be critical of their care providers. They further document how severely disabled people can, and cannot, exercise control over what, when, where, and with whom they eat—with implications for both nutrition/health and sociality/inclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalFood and Foodways
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Disability
  • food insecurity
  • group homes
  • institutionalization
  • U.S

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