FoodCHI 2017

Nov 17 - 18, 2017, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Natalie Jovanovski

Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

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Using Technologies to Deconstruct the Myth of the Vulnerable-Empowered Mother: A Revised Public Health Focus on Low-Income Mothers and Food Insufficiency

There is often heated public debate about low-income families and their eunhealthyf relationships with food, especially in relation to childhood obesity. While these discussions purportedly focus on childrenfs health and well-being, mothers implicitly shoulder the blame for their childrenfs relationships with food, and are framed in much of the public health literature as being simultaneously vulnerable to poverty, but fundamentally responsible for eempoweringf their way out of it. Indeed, online resources directed at mothers are often framed in terms of food education, rather than on encouraging those in health promotion and policy to challenge the structural factors that produce food insufficiency to begin with. While technologies have been used to address food insecurity in ways that focus on environmental interventions; as yet, no online space currently exists in Australia that actively challenges food insufficiency from a structural, rather than educational, perspective. I propose the development of an online platform that brings public health advocates, policy-makers and academics together, and publicly documents the various ways that food insufficiency in low-income families is being tackled on a structural level. By focusing on the work that needs to be done, and the work that currently is being done on a public health and policy level, public health advocates, policy-makers and academics will also contribute to challenging the prevailing neoliberal, pseudo-feminist caricature of the vulnerable-empowered mother, and re-focusing responsibility back onto the state.

Short bio:

Natalie Jovanovski is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Faculty of Health, Arts & Design, Swinburne University of Technology. Her main research areas include the feminist politics of food and eating, as well as feminist politics, theory and activism more broadly. She has written chapters on food and gender for a number of peer-reviewed edited collections (Harrison & Ogden, forthcoming; Kiraly & Tyler, 2015), and has recently had her book, Digesting Femininities: The Feminist Politics of Contemporary Food Culture, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017.

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