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Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern

Postdoctoral Fellow, Environmental Studies

Van Meter 117-6


PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 2012, Geography
BA, Cornell University, 2004, Sustainable Agriculture and Development, College Scholar Program

Link to Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Areas of Scholarly Expertise and Interest

In her research and teaching Dr. Minkoff-Zern broadly explores the interactions between food and racial justice, rural development, and transnational environmental and agricultural policy. This work builds on her extensive experience working on sustainable development and agricultural biodiversity projects abroad, combined with her work on migrant health issues domestically. She utilizes frameworks of political economy and ecology, environmental justice, feminist theory, and critical race theory.

Her dissertation investigated farmworker food insecurity in California, with a focus on indigenous immigrant gardeners and farmers from Oaxaca, Mexico. Her current research builds on her dissertation, where she found that a significant population of farmworkers and other first generation immigrants and refugees to the US aspire to be small-scale farmers. In this work, she explores immigrant and refugee farmers' role in agrarian change in the United States today.

She believes that the best courses are those that help students think broadly about social processes, while simultaneously providing them with the opportunity to engage theory with real life examples, including their own lived experiences. Her teaching philosophy emphasizes reflexive and participatory thinking and discussion, application of social theory to tangible illustrations, and a variety of methods that address diverse learning styles. Through the combination of these approaches, students have the opportunity to learn new ways to understand people's interactions with the environment, as they are influenced by power, social relations, and identity. Her teaching interests include Environmental Politics, Globalization and Social Change, Food and Agriculture, and Ethnographic and Participatory Research Methodologies.

In addition to her academic work in the field of food and agriculture studies, she has spent many years working on farms and with agriculture and food organizations in Guatemala, New York State and California.  When she is not teaching or studying about food and agriculture, she enjoys hiking, swimming, biking, gardening and playing folk and bluegrass music.

Recent Publications/Presentations/Performances

Minkoff-Zern, Laura-Anne. 2012. "Knowing "Good Food": Immigrant Knowledge and the Racial Politics of Farmworker Food Insecurity." Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography. To be published in a special issue on Race, Space, and Nature. Online June 22.

Minkoff-Zern, Laura-Anne. 2012. "Pushing the Boundaries of Indigeneity and Agricultural Knowledge: Oaxacan Immigrant Community Gardening in California." Agriculture and Human Values. Online January.

Minkoff-Zern, Laura-Anne, Nancy Peluso, Jennifer Sowerwine and Christy Getz. October 2011.  "Race and Regulation: Asian Immigrants in California Agriculture." In Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class and Sustainability. Alison Alkon and Julian Agyeman, eds. MIT Press.

Minkoff-Zern, Laura-Anne and Christy Getz. 2011. "Farmworkers- The Basis and Bottom of the Food Chain." Race, Poverty, and the Environment. Vol 18. No 1.

Minkoff-Zern, Laura-Anne. In Press. "A Review of 'Free for All: Fixing School Food in America.'" Food and Foodways.

Funded Research

Rosenberg Grant for Immigration Reporting, The Rosenberg Foundation and UC Berkeley School of Journalism

Society of Woman Geographer's Graduate Studies Fellowship

Programa de Investigacion de Migracion y Salud (PIMSA) and the Health Initiative of the Americas' dissertation research grant

The University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UCMEXUS) research grant

The UC Berkeley Center for Race and Gender Graduate Research Grant

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