Jose Romero

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20142015 Forum on Color

Jose Romero

2014-15 Undergraduate Humanities Forum Steering Committee


College of Arts & Sciences, 2015

José is an anthropology major whose research broadly tunes into the alimentary antagonisms of capitalist and colonial development. Aside from his Penn Humanities Forum Fellowship and Steering Committee position, he holds a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, a Penn Program in Environmental Humanities Fellowship, as well as a Seltzer Digital Media Award, and has received funding from the Penn Museum and Penn Anthropology department to conduct fieldwork in Washington State and Michoacán, Mexico. José’s ethnographic honors thesis (and PHF Mellon Fellowship) research, A Taste of Brown, proposes a synesthetic attunement to the experiences of Latin@ farm workers and migrants as well as their distant families and communities of origin. The project mobilizes audio, video, and GIS multimedia in favor of the embodied experimentality (affective and material) at play in Latin@ cooking over food reforms that fetishize particular foods or diets. He plans to pursue his interests in alimentation, decolonization, experimental ethnography, and fugitivity in graduate school.

Sensing Inhumanity: Brownness at the Limits of the Political in Washington

Growing demands for alternative diets are filtered from the perspective of nation- building and agro-food employees in Washington State. Refusing food as the antithesis of death, brownness emerges as a conceptual frame that foregrounds multiple bodies and actors (human animals, nonhuman animals, and matter) simultaneously as it holds onto ways of being-in-common within scarcity and disavowal. “Sensing Inhumanity” inhabits the limits of nationalist political mobilization for brown bodies by exploring labor embodiment (pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and the sun) and the criminalization of food and color itself (illegalized food trucks and police brutality). Multimedia (video, images, and geographic information systems) and ethnographic writing invite a collective witnessing to our own obligations to the violence constitutive of food production in the U.S. today. Ultimately, how would it feel to embrace a synaesthetic politics of brown alimentary obligation?