The Ancient Future: Diasporic Residency and Food-based Knowledges in the Work of American Indigenous and Pacific Austronesian Writers

Joni Adamson

Abstract


This essay explores the ways in which a growing number of indigenous women writers around the world are depicting the links between their ancient cultures and foodways, human rights, and environmental justice. Like their North American counterparts, indigenous Austronesian women in Taiwan are drawing attention to a growing movement that is alternatively being called the “local foods,” “food justice,” or “food sovereignty movement.” Adamson examines how these women are illustrating what is at stake when the relationship between people and the “first foods” they gather and cultivate is put at risk or interrupted. Focusing on Navajo, Tohono O’odham, and Austronesian/Atayal women writers, she discusses how traditional place-based people retain their cultural and food-based knowledges and are practicing what environmental educator Mitchell Thomashow has called forms of “diasporic residency” that offers contemporary peoples models for how to live in a rapidly globalizing and environmentally-changing world. Finally, she examines how these literary works are contributing to the creation of an “ancient future” built on the relationship between people and the plants they cultivate for food and medicine.

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