Rachel Black

Rachel Black

Food Pathway Coordinator
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Chair of the Anthropology Department

Joined Connecticut College: 2015

B.A. (Hon), University of British Columbia
M.A., University of British Columbia
Ph.D., Università degli Studi di Torino


Food studies

Anthropology of the senses

Anthropology of Food

Gender and work

Rachel Black has conducted fieldwork in Italy, France, the United States and Canada, focusing on the production, distribution and consumption of food. Since joining the Connecticut College Anthropology Department, Black has done research in New London with community partners such as Brigaid, the New London County Food Policy Council, and FRESH New London. Black is particularly interested in experiential learning that challenges students to think critically about our current food systems. Black’s interests range from food and labor issues to the anthropology of wine and the impacts of climate change on the intangible cultural heritage of cuisine.

Rachel Black’s most recent book is Cheffes de Cuisine: Women and work in the professional French Kitchen (2021). This book looks at the experiences of women in Lyon to examine issues of gender inequality in France’s culinary industry. As part of her research, Black attended culinary school and apprenticed in kitchens in France. Voices from history combine with present-day interviews and participant observation to reveal the strategies women use to navigate male-dominated workplaces or, in many cases, avoid men in kitchens altogether. 

Porta Palazzo: The anthropology of an Italian market (2012), Black’s first book, is an ethnographic study of the largest open-air market in Italy. Markets may be less economically important for provisioning cities compared to the past but they continue to play important social roles and are an integral part of the urban fabric. This book also considers the ways in which people maintain their culinary traditions and how they adapt them to new situations such as migration or changing supply chains.  

Black has served as  President of the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition and is a current member of the board for the Association for the Study of Food and Society. She is an active member of the international food studies community.

Rachel Black teaches the following courses at Connecticut College: Power and Inequality in a Globalized World, Sustainable Food Systems, Food and the Senses, Tattoos2Tutus: The Cultured Body, and History and Theory of Anthropology. She is also the Food Pathway coordinator and teaches the Food Pathway Thematic Inquiry course.

Books written and edited by Rachel Black:

Cheffes de cuisine: Women and work in the professional French kitchen, Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2021 

Co-Editor with Robert Ulin, Wine and Culture: From the Vineyard to the Glass, New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013, winner of a Gourmand Book Award.

Porta Palazzo: The Anthropology of an Italian Market, Philadelphia, PA. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

Editor, Alcohol in Popular Culture: An Encyclopaedia, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Press, 2010.

Other recent publications:

2021 “The Gastronomic Capital of the World: Food, politics and identity in Lyon” in I. Diaz (ed.) Taste, Politics and Identities: Food in the Global Stage. London: Bloomsbury: 86-102.

2018 “Cultivating a taste landscape: Cooperative winegrowing in Carema, Italy” in Counihan & Hojlund Pedersen. Eds., Making Taste Public: Ethnographies of Food and the Senses. London: Bloomsbury: 69-82

2018 “Gastronomie, Inégalité, Fraternité: For French chefs, inequality begins in culinary school” Anthropology News. May 10, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.858

2018 “Cultivating a taste landscape: Cooperative winegrowing in Carema, Italy” in Counihan & Hojlund Pedersen. Eds., Making Taste Public: Ethnographies of Food and the Senses. London: Bloomsbury: 69-82

2017 “Sensory Anthropology of Food” in Chrzan and Brett, eds. Anthropology of FoodHandbook, Oxford: Berghahn. 

2015 “Amaro: Drinking bitterness for health and pleasure”, Charismatic Substances 

Series, REMEDIA. https://remedianetwork.net/2015/08/09/amaro/ 

Recent conferences attended and presentations given:

2021 “School food, taste and sustainability: The case of Brigaid”, Association for the Study of Food and Society, Virtual Conference, June 9-15

2021 with Adalie Duran "Economies of Community in Local Agriculture: New London Farmers Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic," Virtual Conference, April 10.

2019 “Crafting Female Chefs: Patriarchy, Resilience and Resistance in French Culinary Training”, American Anthropological Association Meeting, Vancouver, Canada, Nov. 21.

2019 “Cheffe de cuisine: Women redefining the kitchen and labor”, UMass Amherst Anthropology 50th Anniversary Conference, Amherst, MA, Oct. 4. 

2019 “Lessons from the field: Doing community-engaged research in the New London Food System”, Eastern Region Campus Compact Bi-Annual Conference, Providence, RI, March 26.

2018 “#BalanceTonPorc: Gender inequality in the French kitchen”, American Anthropological Association Meeting, San Jose, CA, Nov. 16.

2018 “#BalanceTonPorc: gender inequality in the French kitchen”, Association for the Study of Food and Society Meeting, Madison, WI, June 14.

2017 “The Brigaid Project: Chefs transforming school food in New London, CT”, American Anthropological Association Meeting, Washington, DC, Nov. 29

2016 “Women of character: food work narratives from Lyon’s restaurant kitchens”, American Anthropological Association Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, Nov. 16-20

2016 “Women on the line: women, work and inequality in the professional kitchen”, Association for the Study of Food and Society Meeting, Toronto, June 22-25.

2015 “Women on the line: an ethnographic investigation of changing gender dynamics in professional kitchens in France”, American Anthropological Association Meeting, Denver, CO, Nov. 20.

2014 “Where are all the female chefs? Reproducing and challenging gender stereotypes in Lyon’s professional kitchens,” American Anthropological Association Meeting, Washington, DC, Dec. 5.

2014 “Teaching Italian Culture through Food: An Anthropological Approach”, American Association for Italian Studies Conference, Zurich, Switzerland, May 25.

2014 “Wild ferment: constructing nature, obscuring labor in the natural wine movement”, unpublished paper presented at the American Ethnological Society Meeting, Boston, April 11. 

Invited talks:

“Cheffes de cuisine: women and work in the professional French kitchen”, Pépin Lecture Series, Boston University, Oct. 15, 2021

“The legend of les mères lyonnaises: narrative, meaning and gender in the kitchen”, Culinaria Symposium, University of Toronto, March 12, 2018

“‘You just know when it’s done’: Experiential Learning in the Kitchen”, Dooley Lecture Series, Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY, May 16, 2016

“Regards croisés sur la recherche émergente d’un champ de recherche et d’enseignement » Études du fait alimentaire en Amérique, Université de Québec à Montréal, March 11, 2016

Cibo, culture, società. Una prospettiva di genere. Milan EXPO, June 9, 2015.

“Amaro: From bitterness to health” Charismatic Substances Workshop, University of Cologne, May 15, 2015

Contact Rachel Black

Mailing Address

Rachel Black
Connecticut College
Box # ANTHROPOLOGY/Winthrop Hall
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


Winthrop Hall 212