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Individual Paper: Constructing 'Milk'

From Babies' Food to Basic Food for a "Stronger America"

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Constructing 'Milk' as a Basic Food in the U.S.
The objective of my thesis is to exemplify that 'milk', rather than being just everyday food, is a multifaceted product of human discourse. Since milk campaigns such as “Got Milk?” play a crucial role in institutionalizing milk drinking, my thesis focuses on these promotion campaigns in the 20th century in the USA. It aims at investigating both the geopolitical and sociocultural forces that helped building milk as a cultural construct, and the broad variety of myths and images embedding this liquid into the dominant discourses of race, class, gender, and species. Planned as an interdisciplinary case study, my dissertation also analyzes the meaning of milk within geographies of food and follows the material effects of the surpluses of the U.S. dairy industry raising questions of environmental justice.
First, the development of the dairy industry in the United States and its challenges during the 20th century are traced, since the material context acts as a driver for the U.S. milk culture. Subsequently, the symbolic dimension of the U.S. milk culture is dealt with by taking a close look at historical context and discursive content of milk promotion campaigns; I examine the complex networks of governmental and non-governmental organizations, taking the construction of milk as “nature's perfect food” for Americans of all ages via the institutional fields of science and education into account. My analysis of the discursive content of milk promotion campaigns' imagery considers vectors of power (race/ethnicity, class, gender, and species), a concept that is developed by combining institutional logics perspective with post-colonial and post-structuralist theories. Finally, milk varieties are regarded; the focus is on the interplay between visualities found in raw & organic milk, plant-based alternatives, counter-advertising by animal rights organizations and the original milk promotion advertisements that provide the visual basis for alternative milk discourse.
Understanding the institutional mechanisms, power dynamics, and potential subversions involved in the construction of 'milk' can support a rethinking of an unsustainable surplus-ridden food industry that is kept alive at tremendous costs for human and non-human Others.


Day: 2018-08-22
Start time: 11:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: Nöjesteatern (Conference room)
Track: Custom (describe on the submission note)



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