Men have wheels: the gendered underpinnings of food distribution in rural Dominican Republic

Authors: Susannah Barr*, Florida International University
Topics: Economic Geography, Food Systems, Rural Geography
Keywords: caribbean, food systems, mobility, gender, development, political economy
Session Type: Paper
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In the fields of public health and food justice, problems of food access begin with the central premise that certain groups or individuals are structurally disadvantaged in their ability/mobility to access food. In this paper, I offer a discussion of a tail of the global food system whose business depends on the immobility of customers and the hyper-mobility of critical food resources. Using ethnographic data from La Esquina, a rural community in the Dominican Republic, I will endeavor to unpack three critical factors in the sustainability of this food system – gender relations, educational access, and circular migration – each of which have contributed to significant intergenerational changes in the relative mobility of consumers. These three threads tangle in La Esquina, which sits on the margins of thirty years of nation-wide development reforms focused on agriculture, education, and tourism; at the center of over twenty years of site-specific exposure to the participants of a series of university study abroad programs based in the United States; and within a steadily tightening economic and social relationship to nearby urban centers that reflects global trends of urban expansion. By pulling these threads through broader temporal matrices, I hope to draw together discussions of food and mobility justice and challenge the starting point of food access discussions.

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