Virginia Tech®home

WGD Discussion Series

Upcoming Speakers

12:30 - 2 p.m., Thursday, April 13, 2023
Newman Library Multipurpose Room (first floor, Room 101) and Zoom  

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Food, gender, and identity in a global context: an inter-disciplinary conversation with acclaimed culinary writer Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

  • Nina Mukerjee Furstenau, journalist and author.
  • This event is co-sponsored by the Food Studies Program; the Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation; the Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series; the Department of Geography; the School of Visual Arts; the Women’s and Gender Studies Program; and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Diversity Mini-Grant.

This WGD Discussion Series event will be hosted in a panel format featuring Nina Mukerjee Furstenau and four faculty members from different divisions of Virginia Tech as panelists. The guest speaker and panelists will facilitate a discussion on the relationship between food and food preparation on one hand, and gender and cultural identity on the other.

Bio: Nina Mukerjee Furstenau is a journalist, author, and editor of the FoodStory book series for the University of Iowa Press. She was a Fulbright Global research scholar (2018-19), is on the board of directors for Media for Change, and has won the MFK Fisher Book Award, the Grand Prize Award for Culture/Culinary Writing from Les Dames d'Escoffier International, a Kansas Notable Book award, and more. Green Chili & Other Impostors (Chilies, Chhana, and Rasa in India), her most recent work was published in October 2021 in the U.S. and December 2021 in India. Other published works include the award-winning book, Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America's Heartland, as well as Tasty! Mozambique, Savor Missouri: River Hills Country Food and Wine, and numerous stories and essays for newspapers and magazines. She engages as a speaker at conferences such as Nonfiction Now, Unbound Book, Iowa City Book Festival, Food, Fork and Pen, and more.

Abstract:  Food reveals a nuanced trail into the history of a region, what makes comfort there, how worship is celebrated; it reveals the labor involved in fields and kitchens, the trees that fruit, and the soils that sustain. Food story is also a personal journey connected with that community tale. Because of its universality, the sensory act of eating and the story behind that act can reach across boundaries of gender, education, access, conflict, geography, and politics in accessible ways. This approach creates opportunities for not only food research, but for a deep dive into gender roles and identity in a global context. This presentation takes a look at the uneven distribution of information between women and men due to gendered norms, literacy of women, divisions of labor, access to resources, and power relations in the context of food story. In journalism, writers learn to focus on the “five Ws,” and who, what, when, and where often make headlines across media platforms. Time and again, however, it is the last W, why, that is the heart of the story, and the pivot point in social science research. The talk closes with an overview of the field research behind Tasty! Mozambique as an example of using food story to reach across boundaries such as gender and education, followed by discussion on the need to understand cultural settings with a social science approach within research.


  • Maria Elisa Christie,
    Director, Women and Gender in International Development, Center for International Research, Education, and Development, Outreach and International Affairs.
  • Kim L. Niewolny,
    Associate Professor, Community Education and Development at the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences & Director, Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation.
  • Ozzie Obaye,
    Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
  • Anna Zeide,
    Associate Professor, Department of History & Founding Director, Food Studies Program, College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences.

About the series

The Women and Gender in International Development Discussion Series is organized by the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED) and is an InclusiveVT initiative of Outreach and International Affairs (OIA).  Students, faculty, staff and members of the community are encouraged to attend the discussions and bring their ideas and questions. 

The WGD program has sponsored a monthly discussion series for over a decade. Thanks to the support of OIA, the program is able to bring international speakers as well as others from across the United States. We have also received support from the Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series, the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Endowed Lecture Fund, Women’s and Gender Studies, Women's Center, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Global Programs, the Department of Geography, the Department of History, the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Africana Studies and other programs and departments at Virginia Tech.

The series offers an opportunity for scholars and development practitioners to share their research and knowledge surrounding gender and international development with the Virginia Tech community and beyond.

Contact us

Email to be added to our listserv and receive information on upcoming events.

Past events

Please visit our Past Events Archive for information on the previous Discussion Series and speakers.