HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Disturbing the Modern Plantation: How COVID-19 is Reinforcing the Food Supply Chain’s Function as a Social Sorting Tool

Stephen Wilks (University Detroit Mercy), Disturbing the Modern Plantation: How COVID-19 is Reinforcing the Food Supply Chain’s Function as a Social Sorting Tool, 30 Cornell J. Law & Pub. Pol’y (2021):

This paper captures the plight of workers within the U.S. food supply chain. It describes the zero-sum thinking in our social discourse about the food and agricultural workers well call heroes. This thinking presumes the miseries of their marginalization as essential workers are somehow essential to society’s survival and that we use the language as a self- soothing device to put moral distance between ourselves and those our dependencies actively marginalize. The discussion begins by canvassing statistical data outlining the structure and composition of this workforce as well as the nature of their working conditions. It examines how the impeachment fight and China’s trade war with China factored in the slow U.S. response to the pandemic before chronicling covid19’s immediate impacts – all of which produce dramatic supply chain disruptions. The paper links these disruptions to law’s role in narrowly limiting the autonomy of workers inside the food supply chain while giving license to anti-lockdown protests. The paper culminates in an argument about heroism’s role in glossing over these disparate treatments of autonomy as a kind of balm that both essentializes and ignores oppression.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/healthlawprof_blog/2022/05/disturbing-the-modern-plantation-how-covid-19-is-reinforcing-the-food-supply-chains-function-as-a-so.html

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