Adele Hite, PHD MPH, RDN
WHAT I DO
Because interactions between food and body cannot be isolated from material and discursive environments, my work exploring these interactions connects to issues of class, race, and gender; the environment; globalization; science, policy, and politics; food traditions and cultures; and more.
Sometimes I study food and health through lenses from the biological sciences, the social sciences, and humanities, as I seek to understand how the ways we think about how we eat and the ways we eat are inextricably bound to our embodied experiences.
Sometimes it is the other way around, and I study knowledge production practices, processes of legitimization and authorization, science-policy interactions, and media technologies using examples from nutrition science, dietary orientations and the communities that form around them, and historical and archival deep-dives into public health food and nutrition policy.
In both cases, I find the intersections between food, health, science, and policy to be rich territory for pursing a question that I think matters to all us: How (and why) do we know what we think we know about food and health?
My academic work can be categorized, when necessary, by the following areas of research:
Critical health studies
Rhetorical and cultural studies of science, health, and medicine
Science and technology studies
Feminist science studies and new materialisms
The science-policy-publics interface
Science-based policy controversy
Food politics and policy
Food justice, advocacy, and reform movements
My ambition is to use this eclectic collection of interests and theoretical frameworks to pursue an engaged scholarly agenda centered around developing more inclusive, critical, and reflexive models for producing and deploying food-health knowledges, maybe starting with these questions:
How do science, policy, and publics interact? While there is a considerable amount of scholarship focused on how science affects policy, there is much less attention paid to how policy might affect science and what implications this has for individuals on the receiving end of policy-based programs and practices. Are there ways to build science-based policy--from clinical guidelines to federal public health programs--that reflect the tentative and refutable nature of science?
How might humanities and social science scholars help public health professionals, policymakers, and healthcare providers re-think “the imperative of health”? Is there a way to wriggle out of the current market-oriented framework of individual responsibility and move towards structural changes that protect our most vulnerable citizens (a primary goal of public health), without discounting agency and reducing those individuals to essentialized characteristics? Importantly, how do knowledge claims from science fit into this picture?