Angliss food studies lecturer Dr Kelly Donati secured a prestigious Rachel Carson Centre writing fellowship for 2019-2020
Located in Munich, Germany, the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society (RCC) is an international centre for interdisciplinary research and education in the environmental humanities.
The Centre is named after marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson, author of the groundbreaking Silent Spring. Published in 1962, it was one of the first books to alert the world to the dangers of excessive pesticide use in industrial agriculture.
This year's RCC research theme was "Sufficiency, Post-Capitalism, and the Good Life," focused on imagining better ecological futures. In addressing the theme, Kelly's research proposes that the profound ecological crises of the twenty-first century require better ways of eating and living with different species. While at the RCC, Kelly began work on a book, building on her doctoral research, that looks at the intersections between agriculture and gastronomy.
"My first piece of research involved learning a lot more than I ever expected about rumination and the dietary preferences of goats. This has helped me think about what the rumen, or stomach of the goat, might mean in rethinking gastronomy beyond human interests," Kelly said.
She also delved into the history of industrial yeast and how a Tasmanian craft brewer responds to consolidation and corporate control in the global beer industry, with a view to engaging in less commodified and potentially more delicious relationships with yeast.
Kelly spent her final months at the RCC researching the closure of abattoirs in regional Australia, concerns about animal welfare in meat processing and how farmers are addressing these issues through different models of abattoirs.
In addition to participating in regularly reading and writing groups, RCC fellows attend weekly "works in progress" sessions in which scholars read and comment on each other's work. At the weekly RCC colloquium, fellows present their research to the wider Munich community. Kelly's public colloquium exploring gastronomy and the language of the goat rumen is available online.
"The RCC is a wonderfully collaborative and supportive place to do research in the environmental humanities. It's truly unparalleled in the world, and it was a privilege to work amongst and learn from some of the best thinkers in the field," Kelly said.
Kelly also explained that she was devastated to watch from afar as the bushfire disaster unfolded across Australia. In response to the crisis, she wrote a blog post about its implications for the food system. Her blog post can be read here.