"Food in Cuba: The Pursuit of a Decent Meal" with Professor Hanna Garth

When and Where

Monday, April 12, 2021 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm


Dr Hanna Garth, Assistant professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego


Drawing on long-term ethnographic research in Santiago de Cuba, in this project I detail how families struggle to acquire food and assemble “a decent meal,” a morally laden local social category wherein families determine whether food quality and cultural-appropriateness meet their standards. I examine the ways Cuban families struggle to access food and maintain a decent quality of life as the socialist welfare state continues to falter in post-Soviet Cuba. The research illuminates the social and emotional dimensions of the practices of food acquisition by analyzing how families respond to shifts in food access. To understand this situation, I introduce “the politics of adequacy,” which details how people resist and make sense of scarcity or changing availability of basic life necessities, such as food. This work is based on intensive ethnographic fieldwork inside the homes of 22 families in Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second-largest city. Spanning neighbourhood, social class, household income level, and skin colour, Food in Cuba captures previously undocumented details of household dynamics, community interaction, and individual reflections on everyday life in Cuba today.

Speaker Bio

Hanna Garth is a sociocultural and medical anthropologist who studies food access and the global food system. Dr. Garth studies these questions in Latin America and the Caribbean, and among Black and Latinx communities in the United States. She has conducted over ten years of research on food access in Cuba and published the book Food in Cuba: The Pursuit of a Decent Meal. She is the co-editor of Black Food Matters: Food Justice in the Wake of Racial Justice. She is an assistant professor of Anthropology at UC San Diego and will join the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University in Fall 2021.


This is a School of Cities Seminar Series "Building Resilience in Food and Health Supply Chains"

Supply chains are the primary societal infrastructure for the production, delivery, and recycling of goods and services. Though sometimes invisible, supply chains are the systems that ensure that flour is available in your grocery store, that hospitals have sufficient personal protective equipment, and that there are enough trained staff to administer medical tests, deliver babies, and check-out your groceries. While much of the effort in supply chains over the past 50 years has been to make them agile, fast, and cheap, there is a growing realization that supply chains must be able to adapt to disruptions from local events such as the inability for a plane to land due to weather to global changes such as the closing of the US-Canada border due to COVID-19.

This seminar series seeks to develop a multi-disciplinary understanding of resilient supply chains by examining two which are of critical importance to everyday life: food and health supply chains. The talks in this series look at these supply chains, both independently and together, through the inclusion of diverse speakers representing at least the following perspectives:

  • Supply Chain Optimization 
  • Northern and Remote Food and Health Security
  • Urban Food Systems
  • Systems of Food Production
  • Healthcare Systems