Category Archives: Food Studies

CFP: Trusting the hand that feeds you

Conference of possible interest to readers of this blog:

The interdisciplinary research group Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel invites papers and panel proposals for its 2015 conference, Trusting the hand that feeds you. Understanding the historical evolution of trust in food, which will held in Brussels from 7 to 9 September 2015.

The conference will bring an historical perspective to the study of consumer anxieties about food. Paper proposals are due on December 15, 2014.  For more details, visit the conference web site.

 

 

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Filed under anthropology, CFP, food policy, food politics, Food Studies, history

IEHCA Conference on Food History and Food Studies in Tours!

26-27 March 2015 – Tours (France)

The European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food (the IEHCA, Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation) is organising its first International Conference to be held on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 March 2015 in Tours (France).

This is the first event of its kind and aims to become an annual gathering within the scope of a continuation of the IEHCA’s work over the last twelve years, carried out through its publications (Food & History, “Table des Hommes” collection), its support for research (organisation of conferences; awards for young researchers) and its facilitation of networking opportunities among Food Studies researchers (Yearly Summer School…).

The intention is that the symposium will bring together specialists from all over the world. No specific theme as been fixed for this first occasion; all proposals under the broad heading of Food Studies will be considered. In essence, it will be a multi- and cross-disciplinary event covering all historical periods.

All researchers are welcome (doctoral, post-doctoral, research lecturers, independent researchers, etc.).

Two types of submission, with free choice of subject, will be accepted:

Individual submissions, that should include:

  • the name(s) of the speaker/speakers
  • their institution(s) if applicable
  • the title of their paper
  • contact details
  • a 250-word abstract

Submissions for “panel” sessions on a given theme.

  • For each participant, the same information is required as for individual submissions.

Submissions will be reviewed and selected by the IEHCA’s academic committee.

Papers must not exceed 20 minutes in length and can be presented in English or French.

The Institute would be grateful if you could circulate this invitation to those who might be interested.

The closing date for sending submissions is the 15 December 2014.

Every complete submission will receive a reply within 10 days, irrespective of whether it is sent before or on the closing date.

They should be sent, as well as any questions, to Loïc Bienassis (loic.bienassis@iehca.eu).

Please note that conference participants’ expenses cannot be covered in whole or in part by the IEHCA.

Appel à communications et à sessions

Première Conférence Internationale d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation

26-27 mars 2015 – Tours (France)

L’Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation (IEHCA) organisera les jeudi 26 et vendredi 27 mars 2015 à Tours (France) sa première Conférence Internationale.

Cette manifestation, destinée à devenir un rendez-vous annuel, s’inscrit dans le prolongement des actions que mène l’IEHCA depuis douze ans à travers sa politique éditoriale (Food & History, collection Tables des Hommes), son soutien à la recherche (organisation de colloques ; aides aux jeunes chercheurs) et son travail de mise en réseau des chercheurs en Food Studies(Université d’Eté…).

Cette conférence aura l’ambition d’accueillir des spécialistes du monde entier. Aucun thème spécifique n’a été retenu pour cette première édition ; toutes les propositions relevant des Food Studies seront examinées : ce symposium est par essence pluri- et transdisciplinaire et couvrira l’ensemble des périodes historiques.

Tous les chercheurs sont les bienvenus (doctorants, post-doctorants, enseignants-chercheurs, chercheurs indépendants…)

Deux types de candidatures, portant sur un sujet libre, pourront être soumis :

Des candidatures individuelles, qui comporteront:

  • le nom du ou des communicants,
  • leur(s) éventuelle(s) institution(s) de rattachement,
  • le titre de leur intervention
  • leurs coordonnées
  • un résumé de 250 mots

Des candidatures par session portant sur l’organisation d’un « panel » autour d’un thème donné.

  • Pour chaque intervenant, devront figurer les mêmes informations que celles requises pour les candidatures individuelles.

Les candidatures seront examinées et sélectionnées par le comité scientifique de l’IEHCA.

Les communications ne devront pas excéder 20 minutes ; elles pourront être présentées en anglais ou en français.

N’hésitez pas à faire circuler cet appel autour de vous.

La date limite d’envoi des candidatures est fixée au 15 décembre 2014.

Les candidatures complètes recevront une réponse sous dix jours quelle que soit la date d’envoi.

Elles sont à adresser, ainsi que vos questions, à Loïc Bienassis.

Notez qu’aucun défraiement n’est prévu pour les participants à la conférence.

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Filed under anthropology, CFP, Food Studies

What FoodAnthropology is Reading

David Beriss
University of New Orleans

An occasional and somewhat random list of articles, books, web sites, movies, television shows, and other sources of inspiration from anthropologists of food and nutrition. Feel free to send us items we should include in future installments.

The adventures of a French ethnographic film maker traveling across the United States, exploring local foodways. This is a very intriguing web project and a stunning web site. Settle in and enjoy the experience.

Watch  a lecture by Yale historian Paul Freedman on the history of celebrity chefs, at the annual MAD symposium in Copenhagen. If you visit the Mad site, you will find lots of other interesting lectures.

An interview with historian Elizabeth Abbott, author of Sugar: A Bittersweet History, about the role of sugar in contemporary diets, spotted by anthropologist Leslie Carlin.

Anthropologist and former SAFN president Janet Chrzan sends in this article in Mother Jones , which looks at a few recent studies about the American diet and concludes that while some people are eating better, any overall change in national eating habits will need to be driven by changes in the economy (income inequality, for example), rather than in the food system.

From Flaubert’s Bouvard and Pécuchet, to Green Acres, people have made fun of city folks who want to be farmers. But if you are seriously considering it, this piece from Modern Farmer might be a helpful read.

The U.S. Postal Service is honoring chefs with a new series of stamps. The article that explains this also discusses stamps in other countries that honor iconic foods. It might be even better if the stamps were scratch and sniff (maybe not the chef stamps, however).

School lunch has become one of the battle fields for the American culture wars. This article, by Franco-American journalist Hélène Crié-Wiesner, tries to make sense of the fight for French readers. The article, which is in French, suggests that the debate is less about food and kids and more about anti-Obama propaganda.

We have not seen the first issue of Render: Feminist Food & Culture Quarterly, but the web site is pretty interesting and you may want to take a look. For example, Phylisa Wisdom’s article on loving Mexican food in the context of U.S. immigration debates poses some sharp questions about culture, representation, labor, immigration, and other issues and might help start a robust discussion in a food studies class.

On the subject of journals, there is a new(ish) Canadian Food Studies journal and it is open access, so you can go ahead a read it even now. And if you want, you can also submit articles. Details and issues (well, 1.5 issues, it looks like so far) on the web site.

And on the subject of immigration and labor, this recent article in The New Yorker describes the efforts to organize fast food workers that have resulted in increasingly large protests, sit-ins and strikes in the last few years. The central demand is for a $15 hourly minimum wage in the industry along with recognition for unions, but the industry objects that this is too much. From the daily lives of workers, to the history of unions, the organization of the fast food and broader restaurant industry, there is much in this article for class discussions.

What are other food anthropologists reading? Let us know!

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Filed under anthropology, food activism, food policy, Food Studies, labor, nutrition

Food Forward on PBS

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David Beriss
University of New Orleans

Food Forward is a new documentary series on PBS focusing on people experimenting with new (and sometimes very old) ways of producing food in the United States. The broadcast schedule is available on the PBS website and you can also watch full episodes there. There is a great deal of information about the show available on the Food Forward website as well.

If you visit the web site, you will see that the directors try to distinguish their shows from the cooking competitions, restaurant rescues, and searches for exotic foods that populate food television. But this is PBS, so that is not really a relevant comparison. Instead, Food Forward differentiates itself by not being another documentary about why our food system is inexorably leading us to nutritional and environmental doom. The makers of Food Forward argue that we need a way out, a plan, a way to save ourselves. The episodes document the stories of people who are trying to make food better. They call them “Food Rebels,” because they are taking on the industrial food system, finding ways to produce foods that they claim are environmentally sustainable, healthy, tasty, sometimes even affordable.

I have watched two episodes and the food rebellion looks delicious, the landscapes look beautiful, even the people seem spiritual and remarkably handsome. It would be easy to be cynical about all this — so much optimism in the face of our massive industrial food system might be a bit quixotic. But there is in fact quite a lot to think about here. There are fascinating food innovations, including sustainable farm raised fish in the very first episode. A lot of the innovations are described as efforts to return to older ways of doing things–from fishing with weirs to raising grass-fed beef without antibiotics or hormones. The farmers and fishers who are doing these things are also finding ways to make these methods profitable. These are hopeful films and, frankly, it is easy (and pleasurable) to get swept up in the optimism.

The two episodes I watched, “Go Fish!” and “The Meat of the Matter,” are about fishers, ranchers, and farmers, documenting both production (on ranches, boats, fish farms, etc.) and distribution (community supported fisheries, community supported farmers, restaurants, markets, etc.). There will be episodes that explore urban farming, GMOs, obesity, school lunch, and even hunting (at least 5 episodes are currently available on the PBS site; I assume more are to come). If all the episodes are as good as the first two, any of them could be usefully shown in anthropology classes dealing with food and culture. There is a great deal here to generate discussion among students, many useful questions to be raised. The length of the episodes (about 25 minutes each) also lends itself to class use. Take a look. Let us know (in the comments section) what you think.

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Filed under anthropology, farming, film, food activism, food and health, food policy, Food Studies, nutrition, sustainability

A Sandwich Story and a Street Food Network

David Beriss
University of New Orleans

An article about a monumental sandwich, the torta Cubana, crossed my path recently. Mixing religion (and Mormon missionary work), gender, national identity, and what might be a sandwich induced conversion experience, this is inspiring food writing. Inspiring to go find a torta Cubana, of course, but also inspiring to think about the implications and history of street food and sandwich names. Why does Mexico have the Cubana, but (at least according to the article), Cuba the Cubano? Do people even think about Cubans (of any gender) or Cuba when they eat one or the other? Here in New Orleans we have the “po’boy” (or “poor boy”), a name with roots in a 1929 street car strike. The history, written by my colleague Michael Mizell-Nelson, is fascinating, but I suspect that most people today are unlikely to pause to honor the struggles of the street car workers before digging in.

There are people who are looking into these questions. And asking more serious ones too. In fact, having read the Torta Cubana piece, I found this email from Richard Wilk, with information about a network of such people. Here it is:

The Street Food Global Network (www.streetfoodglobalnetwork.net) was created in 2012 with the aim to link people and organizations directly involved or interested in street food trade and governance worldwide.

The network is meant to be an multidisciplinary space where members can find, share, develop and implement best practices, instruments and strategies fostering an innovative street food.

Members can access a rich documents archive and participate in forums and mailing lists, to share information and ideas.

Rather than a mere virtual space, the network is meant to achieve real cooperation, joint projects, and collective publications.

To date, 180 people from 60 countries have joined the SFGN. Among them: 70 scholars from several fields (Nutritionists, Economists, Sociologists, Anthropologists), 25 professionals working in non-profit local and international organizations (eg. FAO), and 15 public managers.

Several members of the network have recently particpated in the editing of the book “Street Food. Culture, Economy, Health and Governance” by Cardoso, Companion, Marras (eds.) (Routledge, 2014).

The SFGN is managed by the Street Food SQUARE Association (www.streetfoodsquare.org).

 

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Filed under anthropology, Food Studies, Mexico, New Orleans, sandwich

Kitchens, Detroit, North Korea, Farmers Market Policy & More!

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David Beriss
University of New Orleans

We recently renovated our kitchen. As anyone who has done this knows, the process can be expensive and traumatic. You learn things about your house, your family, and yourself that you might not want to know. You spend more money than you expect, eat out more often than you should (or can stand), and drive your friends nuts. However, if you can step back and view the process more objectively, you might learn that the contemporary American “trophy kitchen” is a monument to social distinction, to the glories of consumption, to the ways of households, kinship, and social life. This ought to be obvious, I suppose, but I owe that insight not to my own hard won experience of kitchen renovation, but to an article by Emily Contois, “Not Just for Cooking Anymore: Exploring the Twenty-First-Century Trophy Kitchen,” which is in the new Graduate Journal of Food Studies (2014, volume 1:1-8). Contois examines the history of these kitchens, drawing on design books, popular culture (MTV Cribs!), and other sources, producing a nice overview of what these kitchens mean today. I think her analysis is on target and definitely worth a read. Maybe while sitting at the island in your new kitchen.

Not interested in conspicuous kitchen consumption? There is more! The Graduate Journal of Food Studies has articles on food justice and activism in Detroit, gender, patriarchy, and food propaganda in North Korea, and an analysis of best practices for farmers market incentive programs. The journal also features art work in between the articles and has a book review section.

So, this is a new food studies journal, which is no doubt a good thing. But this one is produced and edited by graduate students in Boston University’s Gastronomy Program. The journal is peer reviewed and published twice-a-year on-line, so you can access it immediately. The articles, reviews, and art are by students studying food (although not necessarily in food studies!) from a variety of universities, not just BU. In fact, the call for papers at the end of the journal encourages graduate students to submit their food-related essays to the journal. The deadline for the next issue is May 31, 2014. Submission guidelines are here.

 

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CFP: Less Palatable, Still Valuable

CFP for annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association
December 3-7, 2014, Washington, D.C.

Panel Title: Less Palatable, Still Valuable: Taste, Agro-biodiversity, and Culinary Heritage

Panel Organizers: Theresa Miller (University of Oxford) and Greg de St. Maurice (University of Pittsburgh)

People across the world eat many things that they would readily admit are not particularly tasty. Contexts might include economic boycotts, dietary restrictions, ritual meals, and hunger. Research on the cross-cultural classification of “tastes” reveals significant variation, as societies experience taste in fundamentally distinct ways. Anthropological studies on disgust, neophobia, and avoidance have been productive (Douglas
1966, Wilk 1997), as have studies of food crops that have gained worldwide significance, such as sugarcane, wheat, and maize (Mintz 1985, Pilcher 1998, Laudan 2013). Taking into consideration that taste and palatability are culturally conditioned, this panel explores the relationship between taste and value by focusing upon distinct flavors, acquired tastes, and the less delicious, even the bland. The panel welcomes papers that bring attention to cases in which edible plants and animals, food dishes, cooking techniques, and even cuisines considered less palatable are valued because they contribute to agro-biodiversity, healthfulness or well-being, symbolism, ritual use, or for other socio-culturally relevant reasons. Ethnographic papers on underrepresented crops or foods that emphasize the diversity of social conceptions of “taste” and deliciousness are particularly welcomed, as are those that examine the links between the cultural constructions of taste and biodiversity maintenance or loss.

This panel will be broad in its geographic scope, exploring the social significance of “less delicious” foods that include yam, manioc, and maize for the Canela indigenous community of Brazil and the Shishigatani squash and other heirloom vegetables for residents of Kyoto, Japan. Papers that complement these case studies will be considered. We ask: How do taste and value intersect and affect each other? When do societies savor less appealing flavors? What do social patterns, semiotics, and historical changes tell us about the place of distinctly less appealing, sometimes even unappealing, flavors? When are they snubbed and excluded, when might they be relegated to a cherished but limited cultural role, and when might they be celebrated and included in spite of–or because of–the flavors they possess, even becoming an “acquired taste”? How do sociocultural factors, including environmental conservation, healthfulness, and the maintenance of tradition, shape the valuation of taste? In pondering these questions, the papers on this panel will suggest ways of incorporating the “less delicious” into the safeguarding of agro-biodiversity and culinary heritage. In this way, the papers will contribute a new dimension to conservation and heritage studies through exploring when and why people eat what their taste buds do not find most delicious.

To propose a paper for this panel, please send a 250 word abstract to Greg de St. Maurice at grd11@pitt.edu and Theresa Miller at theresa.miller@anthro.ox.ac.uk as soon as possible. We will respond within one week of receipt and highly encourage early submissions. If the panel fills up quickly, we may submit for Executive Status (Febrary 15th deadline). Otherwise, we will aim for Invited status and will consider submissions up to March 15th or until all of our slots are filled.

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Filed under AAA 2014 Washington DC, anthropology, Call for Papers, culture, Food Studies