Yale Sustainable Food Program


Hannah Hauptman, B.A.

Residential College: 
Jonathan Edwards

Major and Concentration: 
History (Environmental History concentration)

Arlington, Va.

Project Description: 
I am conducting archival research on the once-prolific sponge fishery that was a dominant feature of the Cuban economy for over 50 years. The ecological characteristics of sponges and sponge fishing intersected with the dynamics of an export-focused industry in unique and fascinating ways, and studying this fishery allows us to better understand the constraints and opportunities facing artisanal fisheries today.

What motivates you to study food?: 
I want to get more experience doing detailed, original archival research, and I am excited about diving into a subject that no historians have touched before. I am also doing this project to learn more about Cuban food and fisheries, and to better understand how historical dynamics have shaped the country today.

What does sustainability mean to you?: 
A system in which the holistic effects of any action are integrated into the choice to take (or not take) that action.

Who or what are you reading for food systems inspiration?: 
John McPhee, The Control of Nature, on human-ecological dynamism and the need for a healthy respect for ecological limits; Paul Greenberg, American Catch, on why we eat from the sea the way that we do; Richard Tucker, Insatiable Appetite: The United States and the Ecological Degradation of the Tropical World, on the connection between food commodities, imperialism, and environmental change.

How does the study of food fit in to your academic work at Yale?: 
I have taken courses on food policy and environmental history, and I have come away from them with a deep appreciation of the way that historical dynamics shape present possibilities. This project allows me to contribute to growing academic conversations on the history of fishing and coastal communities, and to develop my research skills as a budding historian.

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