Category Archives: anthropology

Letters from Camp: A Reflection on the 2015 Annual Meetings of ASFS and AFHVS

Madeline Chera
Indiana University

Madeline Chera is a PhD candidate in Anthropology with a focus on the anthropology of food. She is the student representative on the ASFS board and a 2011 winner of the Christine Wilson Award from SAFN.

The annual American Anthropological Association (AAA) meetings give food and nutrition anthropologists a much needed break at the end of the fall semester and invigorates our minds enough to push through grading final papers in dreary December. However, there is another conference that many of us attend, which takes on an air more befitting summer vacation. It’s somewhat akin to a scholarly summer camp, with critical thinking and good food. It is the joint annual meetings for the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) and the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (AFHVS). Compared to the AAA meetings, it is much smaller, the feeling is more intimate, and the vibe is decidedly jovial. This year’s meetings took place over five days from June 24 through June 28 and packed in ten concurrent panels during each of twelve sessions, but there were plenty of opportunities to meet the same friendly faces throughout the weekend, whether it was at panel presentations, before the keynote, or over drinks.

This is a conference for our (i.e. SAFN’s) kind of people: those interested in exploring the local food culture with their minds and mouths, eager to collaborate in a spirit of conviviality, and ready to discuss a wide range of issues, from class and colonialism in the food system to the ins and outs of fried candy bars (my co-panelist, Christine Knight, actually covered both of these topics in her presentation on media representations and Scottish identity!). However, despite the affinities in interest and the numerous shared values of the conference-goers, one of the benefits of this event is that the participants are not all alike–and not all like us. Although SAFN does have a prominent presence at the ASFS and AFHVS meetings through numerous presenters and sponsorship of two sessions and one of the socializing (and snacking!) opportunities this year, this annual conference is not just a SAFN meeting. The meetings of ASFS and AFHVS are a valuable opportunity for SAFN members to spend time with other scholars of food and agriculture and with professionals in related fields, and to gain exposure to different methods, areas of literature, pedagogical techniques, and topics of investigation. In fact, this opportunity was highlighted in the guiding motif of the meetings. Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability and its Food Studies Program hosted the conference this year in Pittsburgh, a city known for its iconic bridges, and the conference theme, “Bridging the Past, Cultivating the Future,” gave a nod to the power of these structures to join together otherwise disjointed entities. The meetings united sociologists, historians, nutritionists and dieticians, philosophers, psychologists, political scientists, media studies and consumption studies scholars, environmental and agricultural scientists, entrepreneurs, non-profit staff, activists, writers, chefs, and–yes–anthropologists.

Any worthwhile conference aims to build bridges between colleagues and across existing research, as well as to cultivate ideas that steer the work that will come afterward. This one just had the good sense to set out these goals explicitly from the beginning, and it had the implicit bonus ambition to help us savor summer with the jubilant vibe–as much as any academic conference can really have–that is the hallmark of the ASFS/AFHVS annual meetings. The following are a smattering of my personal highlights from this scholarly summer camp:

  • Staying with a Falk School alumna and her housemates in the beautiful Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Not only was this a financial benefit to me as a penny-pinching graduate student, but also I got to explore and learn about the city from the perspective of a local residence and residents. I got their tips for a nearby coffee shop and tasted some cherries from their CSA, and then I had the opportunity to hear about how Pittsburgh’s food and sustainability scene impacted their lives as people who aren’t researching such issues full-time. Although it was brief, the chance to be just a bit more embedded into the context of the area made the experience richer for me.
  • Networking with fellow graduate students. Another student was staying at the house with me, and we were able to chat over last minute tweaks to our presentations. During the day, we kept running into each other in between sessions, and in turn, introduced each other to the people we had met. The size and set up of the conference this year, as in other years, was conducive to repeated exposure, which fostered familiarity and led to some potentially fruitful as well as thoroughly enjoyable connections. From discussions with graduate students, I was able to learn about the structures of other food-focused graduate programs, get insight into areas of research I never would have considered previously, and generate ideas about how to market oneself in order to find desirable work (g. When is using a tool like Good Food Good Jobs helpful and when is it not? And how does one manage the feast-or-famine cash flow of consulting work?).
  • Discussing alternative-to-academic career paths. I was part of a group of several graduate students who had all put in proposals for roundtable discussions about professionalization. In the end, our sessions were combined into a super-panel of women with advanced degrees who are not employed primarily as professors but continue to do work related to food and agriculture in some way. The participants had worked as market researchers, writers, and entrepreneurs, and in a food policy council, state extension services, a university, other non-profit organizations, and private business. Each of them traced out her own study and work trajectory, and then they all answered questions from the audience. The discussion yielded tips for translating the skills honed in graduate school to those hiring in the non-academic world and about where to look for positions. Participants also explained their experiences with job training in different types of positions, and assessed the usefulness of more schooling in different scenarios. This session affirmed for me the wide applicability and value of the grant writing, communication, data analysis, project management, and storytelling skills that my professors have helped me develop and to see that there are many ways to apply the content based knowledge of the field right along with these skills. It was heartening to see these professionals maintaining their scholarly ties through participation in the conference, and they were very kind to provide group mentorship in that form.
  • Rubbing elbows with VIPs, who treated me as a peer. Most of the time I can play it somewhat cool, but the glimmer of our own food scholar stars has not worn off for me yet, and I still get a bit excited when Esteemed Professor X listens to my paper and even asks a question, and when Recognized Expert and Author Y chats with me casually by the coffee carafe. So, I get excited fairly frequently, because this conference is usually one in which the friendliness of the group makes it easy to strike up conversations, with undergraduates and senior professors alike. The tone was one of genuine interest and mutual support, and the names from my Food Studies qualifying exams list were not only encouraging my work and the work of my fellow grad students, but also sometimes inviting us to dinner with them! Students echoed the collegial sentiment, and everyone created an environment in which new ideas could be tested out with a response as positive as that given when forthcoming book chapters were read.
  • Catching up on the latest in the field. Given that I am a borderline book hoarder, the fact that I only brought a carry-on bag with me was an important wallet-saving buffer between me and the collection of exciting new literature for sale at the conference. Many of the volumes were written or have been reviewed by conference attendees and they represented a slice of what is new in the studies of food, agriculture, and society. However, the more cutting-edge material was in the sessions themselves, where I heard about a wide range of topics, including the complicated relationships between contemporary chefs and new media; the politics mediated by travel writing and botanical classifications in the colonial period; and the assessment of behavioral and attitudinal changes of students as a result of participation in food studies programs. If only I could have been in ten sessions at once, maybe I would be totally up-to-date!
mad mex burrito

Enormous local burrito.

Alas, I could not be in ten sessions at once, so I resigned myself to absorb what I could and then enjoy the cruise-like-but-better part:

  • Eating delicious and thoughtfully selected food. It probably comes as no surprise that this crowd loves good food, so there were plenty of opportunities to socialize over delicious and well-curated food and drink, including local stand-outs Wigle Whiskey, Rivertowne beer, Venturi yogurt, and the culinary creations of Chatham students. One of the best things I had was a single fresh peach put out with the morning coffee. I got the sense that the conference organizers’ list of recommended dining options nearby had been deliberated over carefully and vetted by more than one expert. It all added to the excitement and enjoyment that punctuated every coffee break and the end of each day.
  • Sporting my collection of fruit-themed earrings and seeing one of my best friends for the first time in over a year.

    Chera selfie

    The author, with earrings and Leigh Bush.

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Filed under AFHVS, anthropology, ASFS, Food Studies

New Book: Teaching Food and Culture

Teaching Food Big CoverHere at SAFN we seem to be in the midst of a great rethinking of the ways in which we teach about food and culture. Which makes sense — interest in food and related issues is growing rapidly in anthropology and in other disciplines and we have seen the development of many new interdisciplinary programs in food studies. We are, therefore, pleased to announce the publication of a new book on this very topic. “Teaching Food and Culture,” (Left Coast Press) edited by Candice Lowe Swift and Richard Wilk, is a collection of twelve chapters by anthropologists focusing on strategies they use when teaching about food. Hopefully, we will be able to publish a review of this collection in the near future. In the spirit of full disclosure, many of the people involved in this project are SAFN members and one chapter was co-written by SAFN board members David Sutton (our glorious nominations chair) and David Beriss (your blog co-editor). Meanwhile, here is a blurb about the book from the publisher’s web site, which you can visit to learn more.

“With the rapid growth and interest in food studies around the U.S. and globally, the original essays in this one-of-a-kind volume aid instructors in expanding their teaching to include both the latest scholarship and engage with public debate around issues related to food. The chapters represent the product of original efforts to develop ways to teach both with and about food in the classroom, written by innovative instructors who have successfully done so. It would appeal to community college and university instructors in anthropology and social science disciplines who currently teach or want to develop food-related courses.”

And here is the table of contents.

Part 1: Teaching Food

Chapter 1: Introduction: Teaching With and Through Food, Candice Lowe Swift and Richard Wilk

Chapter 2: Interview with Sidney Mintz, Candice Lower Swift and Richard Wilk

Chapter 3: Relating Research to Teaching about Food, Penny van Esterik

Part 2: Nutrition and Health

Chapter 4: Teaching Obesity: Stigma, Structure, and Self, Alexandra Brewis, Amber Wutich, Deborah Williams

Chapter 5: Are We What Our Ancestors Ate? Introducing Students to the Evolution of Human Diet, Jeanne Sept

Chapter 6: Just Milk? Nutritional Anthropology and the Single Food Approach, Andrew Wiley

Part 3: Food Ethics and the Public

Chapter 7: Teaching the Experience and Ethics of Consumption and Food Supply, Peter Benson

Chapter 8: Ethnography of Farmers Markets: Studying Culture, Place, and Food Democracy, Carole Counihan

Chapter 9: Using Volunteer Service in Courses about Food, Janet Chrzan

Part 4: Food, Identity, and Consumer Society

Chapter 10: Teaching Restaurants, David Sutton and David Beriss

Chapter 11: Developing Pedagogies for the Anthropology of Food, Brian Stross

Chapter 12: Teaching Communication and Language with Food, Amber O’Connor

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Filed under anthropology, anthropology of food, Food Studies, pedagogy

Food Studies at SOAS

SOAS Food Studies Chair, Professor Harry West

SOAS Food Studies Chair, Professor Harry West

Welcome to the inaugural post of SAFN’s new Food Anthropology Program series. We will feature an undergraduate or graduate food anthropology program in each post. If you would like to participate, or would like to nominate a food anthropology program for the series, please email the series coordinator, M. Ruth Dike.

Celia Plender
Doctoral Student, SOAS

The anthropology of food has been taught at SOAS, University of London since the mid-1980s. For many years, this took the form of an optional class available to BA and MA students, which was  taught by Professor Johan Pottier. The class reflected Pottier’s research interests in Central Africa, including the study of famine, armed conflict, refugee migration and the disruption of food markets.

When Professor Harry West joined the department in 2003 he was embarking on food-related research with a focus on artisanal cheese making, the notion of re-embedding food systems in locality and the emergence of ‘heritage’ foods. Concurrently Doctor Jakob Klein—who had recently finished his PhD at SOAS and was beginning to lecture in the Anthropology Department—continued to work on the transformation of regional cuisine in the People’s Republic of China. These three academics were interested in learning more about each other’s research, and over time decided to collaborate to develop a full-unit class in the anthropology of food, which combined their diverse interests. Originally the class was open to postgraduate and undergraduate students, but as demand grew availability was limited to MA students only. From 2007, this class became the core of a full master’s programme in the Anthropology of Food.

2007 also saw the inauguration of the SOAS Food Studies Centre, which has developed strong links with an international network of food researchers, and attracted academic speakers such as Sidney Mintz, James L. Watson and Melissa Caldwell, and food writers and chefs including Claudia Roden and Yotam Ottolenghi.

Restauranteur Yotam Ottolenghi--known internationally for his books and television programs on Mediterranean food--gave a Distinguished Lecture in the SOAS Food Studies Centre in November 2014, to the delight of centre members and SOAS alumni.

Restauranteur Yotam Ottolenghi gave a Distinguished Lecture in the SOAS Food Studies Centre in November 2014, to the delight of centre members and SOAS alumni.

As well as hosting lectures, workshops and conferences, the Centre holds a weekly Food Forum during term time. This research seminar is designed to complement the structure of the anthropology of food course, giving its students an opportunity to engage with people active in food-related scholarship, businesses and activism. West is currently Chair of the Food Studies Centre. Klein is Deputy Chair. The Centre currently has 47 members and an additional 803 associate members. The MA in the Anthropology of Food covers a broad range of topics and approaches food at many different scales, ranging from the body, to the household, the nation state and the global food system. Ethnographic examples are drawn from all parts of the world and discussed in a seminar format. Although grounded in anthropology, the syllabus explores different disciplinary perspectives including historical, scientific, nutritional, geographic and economic amongst others. While Johan Pottier has now retired, Harry West and Jakob Klein continue to co-ordinate and teach the core course.

The MA programme, directed by Harry West, currently has an annual intake of around 25 students. The programme attracts a diverse range of students of different ages, nationalities and professional/academic backgrounds. The programme can be pursued full-time over twelve months, or part-time over two or three years. Around a third of students take the part-time route. The MA is made up of four modules – the core course in the anthropology of food, a dissertation of 10,000 words and two other options (or as many as four half unit options). For those who have not studied anthropology before, one of these is filled by a compulsory course in theoretical approaches to social anthropology. Option courses are available in the Anthropology Department as well as others such as Politics, Economics, Development Studies, Law, Religion and Languages. Students also audit a course in ethnographic research methods in order to further prepare them for their dissertation.

Doctoral student Katharina Graf, who studies how cooking knowledge is passed down in Moroccan households, prepares couscous for an ethnographic dinner.

Doctoral student Katharina Graf, who studies how cooking knowledge is passed down in Moroccan households, prepares couscous for an ethnographic dinner.

In addition to the passion that West and Klein have for their subject matter, one of the many strengths of the programme is its location in London, which is home to a broad range of alternative food businesses, NGOs, food purveyors, media organisations and other food-related activities. This is reflected in a half unit option which is available to students on the MA – a directed practical study in the anthropology of food. Students taking this identify an institution, organization or enterprise in which to work as an intern. The combination of work experience, directed readings and reflective written assignments allows students to bridge the divide between theoretical and practical concerns, and in many cases helps students to reflect on their future career paths, while expanding their relevant networks. Alumni of the course have gone on to work in a broad range of food-based jobs, details of which can be found on the food studies alumni profile page.

About the author:

Celia Plender is an alumna of the MA Anthropology of Food and current doctoral student in the Department of Social Anthropology at SOAS studying consumer food co-ops in the UK under the supervision of Harry West.

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Filed under anthropology, anthropology of food, Food Studies

Farm To Table, New Orleans, August 8-10 2015

Symposium-Logo-Website-Header1

The 3rd Annual Farm to Table International Conference is scheduled for August 8-10, 2015, at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. F2Ti features the brightest thought leaders and leading practitioners in the burgeoning farm-to-table movement. F2Ti explores the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of food and drink sourced locally to globally. It takes place in tandem with the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s Annual Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO, an event attracting food and beverage professionals from across the country.

This year’s theme, “A Feast for the Senses,” spotlights the sensual aspects of food and drink at every stage of the agricultural-culinary cycle. Topics will include, but are not limited to, best practices in urban farming, bringing products to market, sourcing locally, enhancing sustainability, and the latest trends and developments in the industry, including food science, security, and safety.

Program Features:

  • Panels on best practices in the following educational tracks:

•    Crop to Cup (Brewing, Distilling, Vinting, plus non-alcoholic beverages)
•    Farming and Production
•    Food and Beverage Journalism and Media
•    Farm to School
•    Food Innovation (Science, Technology, Trends, etc.)

  • Keynote speakers of national and international standing
  • Numerous opportunities for networking during the three-day conference program
  • Chef Demos and “Knowledge Center” presentations

WHO SHOULD ATTEND:

  • Chefs, mixologists, and restaurateurs
  • Researchers, academics, and policymakers
  • Farmers and agricultural professionals
  • Writers, publishers, and media
  • Slow food advocates
  • Brewers, distillers, vintners, and distributors
  • Farmers markets and urban farmers
  • Nutritionists and health professionals
  • Grocers and retailers
  • CSA/RSA
  • Foragers
  • Food incubators
  • Food hubs

Additional information can be found here. Registration is here.

F2T is produced by the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in partnership with the SoFAB Institute and the LSU AgCenter.

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Filed under agriculture, anthropology, conferences, farming, food activism, food policy, food politics, Food Studies, food systems

Dublin Gastronomy Symposium 2016: Food and Revolution

dublin gastronomyDublin Gastronomy Symposium 2016 (Theme: Food and Revolution)

Call for Papers

Save the dates 31st May – 1st June 2016 in your diaries for the third biennial Dublin Gastronomy Symposium. The theme for 2016 will be Food and Revolution which can be interpreted in the broadest sense. The study of gastronomy is uniquely multidisciplinary, and indeed transdisciplinary, encompassing the arts, humanities, and both the natural and social sciences. Of course, we will be celebrating the Easter 1916 Revolution here in Dublin but the symposium organisers invite papers about revolutionary events in the food world – including but not limited to the following topics:

–       Food and war, trench food, siege food, food as a weapon or war etc.;

–       Impact of the French Revolution on restaurants and hospitality;

–       American Revolution – Boston Tea Party! (Tea, coffee, chocolate as revolutionary beverages);

–       The Industrial Revolution and its effect on food and drink;

–       Health Food Revolutions – from Galen to the Paleo diet;

–       Influence of Service à la Russe;

–       Who were the revolutionary chefs, cooks and food producers of the past and who are the present revolutionaries?

–       Revolutionary food writers (Grimod de la Reyniere, Elizabeth David, Theodora Fitzgibbon, Julia Child …) not to mention food in literature, poetry and songs;

–       The Green Organic revolution;

–       The Micro-Brewery and Artisan Distillery revolution;

–       Revolutionary food and beverage pairings;

–       Revolution in Culinary Training – from apprenticeship to degrees and beyond;

–       The rise in Food Studies programmes – revolutionary topics and methodologies;

–       Can revolution unify citizens under a common cuisine – Italy and Garibaldi;

–       Revolutionary Food Science and Technology – Molecular Gastronomy to Locavore Nutrition;

–       Podcasts, Blogs and Instagram – food and the new media revolution.

The above is only a sample of possible areas for study. Feel free to interpret the theme as liberally as you wish. We look forward to reading many interesting revolutionary papers from you in 2016.

If you are interested in delivering a paper, please send a 250 word proposal to mairtin.macconiomaire@dit.ie by the 15th January 2016. Completed papers would be expected to be submitted by 1st May 2016. Length of papers should not exceed 5,000 words (excluding references). Author style sheet is available on http://arrow.dit.ie/dgs/information_for_authors.html .

Please forward this notice to any interested parties.

The DGS Organising Committee

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Filed under anthropology, Call for Papers, Food Studies, revolution

CFP: Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

Call for proposals:  Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, 2nd edition. Eds. Paul B. Thompson (Michigan State) and David M. Kaplan (University of North Texas)

The online and print edition of the Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics (Springer) was published in October 2014.   Springer is so pleased by the sales and number of article downloads that they are seeking to publish a second, on-line edition.

The encyclopedia consists of entries that introduce topics and review controversies surrounding food production, distribution, and consumption.  The entries are not works of creative scholarship but rather part of a tertiary literature: they summarize the issues, arguments, and developments surrounding ethical issues related to food, agriculture, eating, and animals.

We welcome your suggestions for contributions.  Entries should be 1,500 words (min) to 4,000 words (max).  Advanced graduate students and recent PhDs are welcome to contribute.

Contact David M. Kaplan (University of North Texas), David.Kaplan@unt.edu for a copy of the Table of Contents from the first edition.  For the new edition, please suggest a topic (and a title) that is not included in the list.

Deadline for proposals: August 1, 2015

 

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Filed under agriculture, anthropology, ethics

Robert M. Netting Best Student Paper Prize

The Culture and Agriculture section of the American Anthropological Association invites anthropology graduate and undergraduate students to submit papers for the 2015 Robert M. Netting Award. The graduate and undergraduate winners will receive cash awards of $750 and $250, respectively, and have the opportunity for a direct consultation with the editors of our section’s journal, CAFÉ (Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment), toward the goal of revising the paper for publication. Submissions should draw on relevant literature from any subfield of Anthropology, and present data from original research related to livelihoods based on crop, livestock, or fishery production and forestry and/or management of agricultural and environmental resources. Papers should be single-authored, limited to a maximum of 7,000 words, including endnotes, appendices, and references, and should follow American Anthropologist format style.

Papers already published or accepted for publication are not eligible. Only one submission per student is allowed. Submitters need not be members of the American Anthropological Association but they must be enrolled students. Students graduating in the Spring of 2015 are eligible. The submission deadline is August 31st, 2015. Submissions should be sent to Nicholas C. Kawa (Ball State), nckawa@gmail.com.

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Filed under AAA, agriculture, anthropology, awards, foodways