Jerome Dotson is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and a graduate of Morehouse College. He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history and an M.A. in African American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research and teaching interests focus on the African American history, Southern food ways, hip hop, folklore and politics of the body. He previously taught at the University of Washington and Seattle University.
Currently he is working on a book length manuscript, which is tentatively titled Contested Consumption: Race, Diet and Slavery in the Cotton South, 1830-1865. This work explores the cultural, social, and political significance of food consumption for slaves and slave owners in the U.S. South. Food consumption marked social hierarchies, fueled political debates over slavery, and shaped ideas about embodied racial difference. For slave owners, their ability to monitor and dictate the types of foods eaten by slaves helped reinforce their authority over the black bodies they owned. Furthermore, their regulation of slaves’ fare provided a way for slave owners to defend the South’s “peculiar institution” against abolitionists who used stories of underfed slaves to further their anti-slavery cause. Meanwhile, slaves across the diaspora told stories that focused on acquiring food as a symbol of status.
Beyond writing on slavery, Prof. Dotson also teaches and writes about hip hop culture. Currently, he is working on a conference paper which examines diet, Black Nationalism and hip hop in the 1980s and 1990s.