Dr Celia Plender

Research Topic Title: The Politics of Food and Housing in Changing Times

My research takes an ethnographic approach to experiences of political-economic change in the UK from the perspective of grassroots community groups. My PhD focused on two London-based retail food co-ops to explore practices of politics, aid and care in the face of austerity and a growing humanitarian crisis around access to food. In this context contradictory visions and practices often became intertwined – some more closely aligned with co-operative ideals, others with charitable giving or personal values. This fellowship gives me the opportunity to consolidate and disseminate my PhD findings and to develop a new research project on food and housing insecurity and activism.

Key outputs for the fellowship will include a monograph based on the PhD thesis that explores the everyday politics of food co-ops from a feminist perspective. I will also share my research with a wider audience by presenting at conferences and hosting talks and workshops for academics and practitioners.

In order to further my understanding of how people experience and respond to the ongoing housing crisis in Britain, I will conduct two months of ethnographic fieldwork with housing activists in London – a city where the crisis is felt particularly acutely. I will build on this research to develop a funding proposal which engages with how people mobilise and organise around food and housing insecurity in the context of COVID-19 and Brexit where the political-economic landscape is changing rapidly.

Mentor: Associate Professor Katharine Tyler


Das, M & Plender, C. (2020) “Tales from the Cheese Counter: Taskscape and taste at Neal’s Yard Dairy” in Ed. Falconer, Emily, Space, Taste and Affect: Atmospheres That Shape How We Eat, Abingdon: Routledge.

West, H & Plender, C. (2015)“An Interview with James C. Scott” in Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies, 3: 1-8.