I am thrilled to share that my book, Caribeños at the Table: How Migration, Health, and Race Intersect in New York City, is scheduled to come out this October 2021 via University of North Carolina Press.
The book has been the result of a long and transformative process, beginning back in 2013, when I moved to New York City as a Faculty Fellow in New York University’s food studies program. The move allowed me to pursue a new project addressing my Puerto Rican community in the city, alongside fellow caribeños, Dominicans and Cubans. As a food studies faculty, I began expanding my disciplinary boundaries, exploring the use of archival material to best understand the historical roots of today’s eating habits. I continued this approach and expanded the project further upon my transition to my current position, as nutrition faculty at CUNY Brooklyn College in 2015.
This book is a unique labor of love, more than a project to fulfill professional expectations. Books are not common or expected in my home discipline. In the nutrition and public health worlds, we write journal manuscripts and grant applications. While worthwhile and fulfilling endeavors, the work often stays within a small audience of peers. Journals limit the scope of the story we often need to tell both via word limits and disciplinary constraints (or expectations). The opportunity to write this book allowed me to expand, to bring forth the voices and lives of the caribeños and caribeñas that shared the lives with me, while intertwining these stories within the fabric of the city and the formation of these Hispanic Caribbean communities in New York.
Check out the cover and a brief excerpt from the book’s description below:
Melissa Fuster thinks expansively about the multiple meanings of comida, food, from something as simple as a meal to something as complex as one’s identity. She listens intently to the voices of New York City residents with Cuban, Dominican, or Puerto Rican backgrounds, as well as to those of the nutritionists and health professionals who serve them. She argues with sensitivity that the migrants’ health depends not only on food culture but also on important structural factors that underlie their access to food, employment, and high-quality healthcare. […] Applying a much needed intersectional approach, Fuster shows that nutritionists and eaters often misrepresent, and even racialize or pathologize, a cuisine’s healthfulness or unhealthfulness if they overlook the kinds of economic and racial inequities that exist within the global migration experience.– Book Description, https://uncpress.org/book/9781469664576/caribenos-at-the-table/
There is so much to share about this work and process. This blog was started as a place to process and analyze emerging findings. In that same vein, I hope to share more about this journey and upcoming events and talks in the coming months.
The book is available for pre-orders via this link: https://uncpress.org/book/9781469664576/caribenos-at-the-table/ (including a limited time 40% discount!)