From the worldwide rise in food prices to the harassment of a Tunisian produce vendor whose self-immolation set off the Arab Spring, food has been a key catalyst of the world-transforming protests of 2011. This focus section explores the diverse ways that contemporary movements for social and political change, from the Arab Spring to the Mediterranean Summer to the Occupied Autumn, have drawn on food in framing their transformative practice. Going beyond a simple equation of food and identity, we examine the role food has played in metaphors, daily revolutionary practices and as a key subject of worldwide concern. Thus we focus on the politics of food in its symbolic, social and material dimensions. Papers combine ethnographic research and textual analysis in some of the diverse locations of current protests to give a sense of how food can provide a unique window into understanding the startling events of 2011. The papers presented here were originally presented as a panel at the Association for the Study of Food and Society Conference in New York in June 2012.

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