Dr. Rachel Slocum

Dr. Rachel SlocumThe UW-L Geography and Earth Science Department is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Rachel Slocum to our faculty beginning with the 2010 Fall Semester.

Rachel has a B.A. from McGill University in Montreal where she studied Political Science and Developing Area Studies. She spent several years in Niger, West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer and then in Washington D.C. working on international development policy before going to Clark University for an M.A. in International Development and Social Change. Working first with Dianne Rocheleau for her M.A., she remained at Clark to get her Ph.D. in Geography under the supervision of David Angel.

Rachel's graduate research began with work in Mali, West Africa, where she studied women's and men's access to land in a large government rice project called the Office du Niger. Having become interested in Sahelian food and society questions while working with Hausa and Tuareg people in Niger, this study was an opportunity, provided by a Fulbright scholarship, to understand international development, gender, and agriculture, after having had some graduate training.

Pressing problems, specifically, U.S. responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of resources, brought Rachel's attention back to the U.S. Her doctoral research concerned U.S. cities' (Minneapolis, Tucson and Seattle) efforts to lower their greenhouse gas emissions prior to action or acknowledgment of climate change at the national level. The difficulty of their task was not only practical (how to count municipal emissions, where to reduce emissions), but also philosophical and ethical--climate change, the collection of gases in the troposphere that affects ocean currents, temperatures, ecosystems and differently vulnerable people, was a global phenomenon. How could it be a city problem? Cities tended to address the issue by appealing to people's desire to save money on their energy bill.

Continuing with her interest in nature-society questions, Rachel began a study of race and the movement to make food systems more local, research she continues to pursue. She uses ethnographic methods to study racial identity in the context of this movement nationally and locally (in the Twin Cities) and to explore the geographies of race and food through the site of the Minneapolis Farmers' Market. She is interested in racial inequality in local food, marketing and farming but also in the way race attracts and food encourages antiracist encounters. While at UW-L, she looks forward to working with students, faculty and the University on questions of food and justice and to teaching about gender, race, development and the human-environment.

When not attached to her laptop or doing fieldwork, Rachel likes knitting, yoga, running, reading fiction and enjoying the city with her significant other, Arun. And when the season permits, she loves to garden. She plans to construct a rain garden, plant flowers and grasses native to the praire and grow lots of vegetables.

For more on Dr. Slocum's background and research interests, please feel free to visit her personal web page.

On behalf of all UW-L Geography Department Faculty, staff and students, we'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dr. Slocum on her appointment and welcome her to our Department.