I came to rhetoric and communication from a Ph.D. program in nutritional epidemiology and a background in nutrition, dietetics, and public health. I was driven largely by frustration and questions I couldn’t answer (or even figure out how to ask). I’ve been inspired and challenged by the theoretical frameworks offered by rhetoric and communication, and I have found my work going in directions I could not have envisioned previously.
I've discovered: science and technology studies; feminist new materialism; feminist science studies; rhetorics of science, technology, health, and medicine; critical and cultural studies; media studies; and more. As much as anything else, I've realized the value a social science/humanities perspective brings to questions of science, particularly biomedical science as it is applied in what we used to think of as the healing "arts." I suspect I will spend the rest of my life working to bridge these disciplinary gaps--and to understand how and why they were constructed in the first place.
I think this is a particularly trenchant issue when it comes to the divide between nutrition science, on one side, and the historical reality of everyday food practices, on the other. As Craig Hassel (2014) put it, "every society has had to develop its own understandings of food and health relationships." What is lost when these culturally and geographically situated ways of knowing about food and health are replaced with (or overshadowed by) modern, biomedically driven, notions of a “healthy diet"?
I bring forward with me in my work the voices of the women and men I met in clinics, hospitals, public
health settings, Washington D.C. conference rooms, and in conversations over grocery carts and neighborhood potlucks. My thinking continues to be animated by their questions and concerns, many of which boil down to this: Why is nutrition [science, policy, discourse] the way it is?