Review: The Agency of Eating

Media of The Agency of Eating

Emma-Jayne Abbots The Agency of Eating: Mediation, Food and the Body. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN #9781472598530 

Molly Hilton (Wayne State University)

The senses have been causing a major stir in both the theory and practice of ethnography… This focus has yielded a number of monographs and anthologies that are both rich in sensory detail-making them a pleasure to read-and thorny in terms of the epistemological and other theoretical issues they evoke. (Howes 1996, reviewing Seremetakis’ The Senses Still)

Eating, chewing, tasting and swallowing, is a social and political act. Eating is also a potentially affect-laden embodied experience. In the Agency of Eating, Abbots assembles a complex theoretical landscape to explore eating as an embodied experience that mediates and is mediated by the relationship between food’s matter and meaning. Abbots seeks to broaden a scholarly discourse that she argues has privileged the meaning of food and its political economy over food’s materiality. Abbots is careful to present this work not as a resolution but as a call for greater attention to the materiality of food.
This book is a theoretical exploration. The research question driving Abbots is to “tease out how the eating human body, the material stuff of food, and cultural knowledges about food all dynamically interplay to shape social understandings of what and how we should – and should not – be eating.” (p1, emphasis added). To examine this question, Abbots simultaneously considers actor-network theory, the agency of the non-human, mediators, embodiment, and Foucauldian perspectives on knowledge and bio-power. Two innovative conceptual tools facilitate analytic movement from the micro-scale (food in the body) to the macro-scale (power relations and social meaning): (1) bounded vitalism, and (2) bio-authority.

The text draws upon Abbot’s own ethnographic data from past fieldwork in Ecuador, a large body of food studies literature, and the author’s own embodied experiences. Published ethnographies are employed to probe topical subjects such as heritage foods, global food networks, and responsible eating.  Some readers may take issue with the post hoc data sources. In my opinion chapters two and three, utilizing Abbots own ethnographic data, are the most compelling applications of her theoretical framework.

Abbots begins with the theoretical foundation and rationale. Readers will appreciate the articulated definitions of common but often slippery terms. Eating is broadly defined to encompass ingestion, digestion, salivation and beyond the confines of the body such as “eating with the eyes.”  Agency is characterized as multi-directional, relational, continually produced, and distributed. Assemblages are dynamic, fluid processes of things, people, and knowledge.

The concept of Bounded vitalism proposes the agentive capacities of food are co-produced, empowered or constrained, through social and embodied interaction. “The recognition that a food’s knowledges and meanings – and, in turn, aspects of vitalism –emerge from interactions across a wide network of human and non-human actors, and that agency is hence distributed, moves us away from the Bourdieusian model of tastemakers that has been prevalent in much discussion of cultural intermediaries, particularly within economic sociology” (p24). Bounded vitalism, as a conceptual lens, has the potential to explain socio-political and economic constraints while also allowing for human and non-human agency. Agency is present in the food and also in the eater’s body.  An eater’s preference for or rejection of a food can be interpreted as a materialization of embodied agency (p36). Foods like corn or “junk food” may participate in assemblages that include embodied experiences as well as social and cultural meanings.

Bio-authority draws on the concept of biopedagogies from Wright and Harwood (2009) but modifies the terminology to emphasize a social accordance of legitimacy. Bio-authorial encounters illuminate how multiple voices, family, government, local food activists, chefs, cookbooks and markets, health advocates and so on, acquire cultural authority to speak about food – even in contexts that were not designed to produce knowledge. Abbots’ concept of bio-authority charts a pathway for scholars to analyze multiple, and sometimes conflicting, power-relations in a way that “recognizes that ‘the body’ is not just social construction but also a sensing, feeling entity” (p33). I suggest that in such a frame teaching and learning can be multi-directional. This is particularly evident with the discussion in chapter three regarding multiculturalism and the migrant context.

In the quote that opens this review Howes (1996) notes “thorny epistemological and other theoretical issues” evoked by ethnographies that describe the senses. Twenty-three years later, Proust’s madeleine still eludes scholarly attempts to fully explain the inter-relationship of food as social meaning and simultaneously embodied experience. Important contributions have advanced the discourse. Sutton (2001) and Holtzman (2009) have grounded their discussions in embodied memory. Memory doesn’t give us a good way to consider power-relations. Bourdieusian theory grounds Ayora-Diaz’s (2012) work on the institutionalization of taste and political economy. Here food is a medium of agency not the agentive actor. Many authors have found Foucault’s theories of bio-power, technologies of self, and surveillance to be a productive lens in a feminist perspective. The socially constructed body, however, doesn’t provide a means to bridge analysis from the macro to the micro (Warin 2015, Yates-Doerr 2015, McCullough and Hardin 2013). In The Agency of Eating Abbots proposes a collection of theoretical tools that might bridge the macro to micro, the mind and body. Together the concepts of bio-authority and bounded vitality map the processes by which “knowledge” becomes inscribed into the body as well as the means through which the body contributes to knowledge production. One interesting potentiality in Abbots framework is consideration not just of assemblages but also of the interplay of constraints on different forms of agency within an assemblage. Examining the experiences of migrants we see shifting assemblages where certain bio-authorities come to the fore in different contexts. The migrant, upon eating cuy, roast guinea pig sent from home, experiences emotion and sense that re-invigorates social bonds and re-roots the migrant to home. In the ethnic grocery store, the migrants’ sensory experience is conditioned by the storekeeper and also by “the affective background and experiences of the eater” (p67). By explicitly situating affect and sense as actants within the assemblage, Abbots has legitimized embodied phenomena.

Chapters two and three can be read as a dialectic elucidating the concepts of bounded vitality and bio-authority. Chapter two examines the ways in which bodies in Jima, Ecuador are made kin through the shared substance of cuy. The vitality of this regionally significant dish is distributed across a wide assemblage that includes both human and non-human mediators. This wider assemblage reveals the relationship between the local grass eaten by the guinea pig and the embodied experience of taste – a sort of terroir. Abbots argues that an embodied, cultural desire for and enjoyment of a specific flavor and texture can be produced in the eating body and can facilitate social inclusion.

The lens shifts in chapter three to the migrant experience and how eating cuy meat sent from home materially and symbolically maintains relationships to distant people and places. Migrants construct their identity, social belonging/otherness through eating foods from home, blurring the boundaries of space and time. New hybridized identities and boundaries can be constructed through acceptance or the politics of refusal. Particularly in the migrant space, bio-authorities mediate experiences of belonging and otherness. This chapter attends to the senses – “how belonging and not-belonging are felt” (p63).

In chapter four, Abbots extends her argument about affect and sensory experience to suggest that food heritage festivals combine matter, meaning, and affect to produce compelling multi-sensory bio-authorial encounters. Abbots contends that food heritage festivals produce a “mechanism through which citizenship becomes inscribed in bodies” (p11).  To support this hypothesis, Abbots stitches together a disparate collection of literature that would have benefited from more cohesive ethnographic detail. For example, Abbots discusses a multi-sensory “buzz” experienced at heritage food festivals that has the power to inscribe on eaters’ bodies a shared symbolic and political meaning (p87). I find this claim plausible but not wholly convincing. Abbots supports the existence of “buzz” with multiple authors’ descriptions of food events but not any emic reports. Then the distance to political meaning is traversed though theory from moral economy to Douglas’ social body (2002), making the connection back to food festivals and their “buzz” more hypothetical than ethnographic.

Chapters five and six consider notions of safety and risk, anxieties about obscured food networks, and “responsibilised eating.” Politically framed markers such as fair trade, slow food, GMO constrain and empower a food’s vitality impacting the ways it is experienced in the body. Acknowledging that food preferences are felt and sensed, as well as being intellectual choices, can enhance our understanding of food politics.

This book is most useful to readers who are interested in developing theory that integrates materiality, meaning, and power relations, especially those working in critical nutrition and fat studies. Readers who are already familiar with post-modern and contemporary theory as well as a body of food studies literature will get the most from this text. The prose is dense. This is not intended to insult the author; on the contrary, I believe that Abbots is aiming for linguistic precision to elucidate innovative theory for which shared terminology has not been fully developed.

Works Cited

Ayora-Diaz, Steffan Igor. Foodscapes, Foodfields, and Identities in the Yucatán. Cedla Latin America Studies Berghan, 2012.

Holtzman, Jon. Uncertain Tastes: Memory, Ambivalence, and the Politics of Eating in Samburu, Northern Kenya. Oakland: University of California Press, 2009.
Howes, David. “Book Review.” American Anthropologist 98, no. 1 (1996): 201-02.
McCullough, Megan B., and Jessica A. Hardin, eds. Reconstructing Obesity: The Meaning of Measures and the Meaning in the Measures, Food, Nutrition and Culture: Berghahn Books, 2013.

Proust, M. (1913‐27). Remembrance of Things Past. Volume 1: Swann’s Way: Within a Budding Grove. The definitive French Pleiade edition translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. New York: Vintage. pp. 48‐51.

Seremetakis, Nadia. The Senses Still. Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Sutton, David. Remembrance of Repasts: An Anthropology of Food and Memory. New York: Berg, 2001.

Warin, Megan. “Material Feminism, Obesity Science and the Limits of Discursive Critique.” Body & Society 21, no. 4 (2015): 48-76.

Yates-Doerr, Emily. The Weight of Obesity: Hunger and Global Health in Postwar Guatemala California Studies in Food and Culture. University of California Press, 2015.

 

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Filed under Agency, anthropology of food, Ecuador

The Sophie Coe Prize in Food History 2019

Yet another great opportunity for the essayists among us! For further information, please visit the prize web site. Although the flyer (cited below) notes that Sophie Coe was an eminent food historian below, it is worth noting that she had a PhD in anthropology. So it is always glorious to have anthropologists win this particular prize.

From the flyer for the award:

The Sophie Coe Prize is the longest-running prize for writing in food history in the English language, awarding £1,500 to the winning essay, article or book chapter every year. First given in 1995, the prize was founded in memory of Sophie Coe, the eminent food historian who died in 1994. It focuses on great writing about new research and/or new insights into the study of the history of food.

In 2019, our 24th year, the winner will be chosen–as usual–by our anonymous panel of distinguished judges and awarded to the author of an original, informative article or essay on any aspect of food history. Published and unpublished work may be submitted. If the former, it must have been published within the last 12 months of the submission deadline. If the latter, it must be in immediately publishable form.

The submission deadline this year is 26th April 2019. The winner will be announced and the prize presented at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery in early July. For full details, including conditions of entry, previous winners, and to sign up for reminders and updates on the Prize, please consult our website at sophiecoeprize.wordpress.com.

All queries not answered by the information on our website should be addressed to the Chair of the Trustees of the Sophie Coe Memorial Fund:
Contact name: Dr. Jane Levi
Email: sophiecoeprize@gmail.com
Website: sophiecoeprize.wordpress.com

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ASFS Pedagogy Award

In a recent post, we reminded you of deadlines for various awards from the Association for the Study of Food and Society. It looks like we missed one that could be of great interest to SAFN folks who teach: the ASFS Pedagogy Award. Fortunately, the deadline has not yet passed, although it is coming soon: February 15, 2019.

From the web site:

“The ASFS Award for Food Studies Pedagogy is given to the teacher of food studies in any discipline who presents a course that uses innovative and successful pedagogical techniques to reach students. These may include classroom exercises and assignments as well as outside projects, trips, and service activities. The course may be taught at the graduate or undergraduate level, for degree credit. Any ancillary evidence of exemplary teaching methods will also be accepted. A cash stipend of $200 accompanies these awards. Winner(s) are acknowledged at the annual conference and in the journal, Food, Culture & Society. The committee maintains the right to refrain from granting either award if applications do not demonstrate excellence.”

Details on how to apply are here.

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CFP: Mediations of Food: Identity, Power, and Contemporary Global Imaginaries

Call for Papers

2019: Volume 11, Issue 1

Mediations of Food: Identity, Power, and Contemporary Global Imaginaries

The Global Media Journal — Canadian Edition

Guest Editor:

Dr. Tina Sikka, Newcastle University, UK

In the field of transnational media studies, food and food cultures are traditionally examined as a type of media content, environmental/commodity object, or mode of sustenance (with some cultural significance), or, alternatively, as medium through which relations of gender, class, sexuality, and dis/ability are made manifest. Given this bifurcated lens, this issue seeks to bring together articles that examine the nexus between food cultures, identity, and media representation in more detail. Specifically, we seek submissions that use food as a lens through which to study how its mediated representation (e.g. television, print, film, the Internet/social media) reflects complicated histories of colonialism, empire, neoliberalism, and inequality, but also cultural resilience, social belonging, community, and political awareness.

Papers that draw into this discussion the complicated relationship between food media and  racialisation, gender, class, sexuality, dis/ability, and other manifestations of identity are particularly welcome – especially those that take an intersectional approach and engage with the significance of changing and culturally contingent conceptions of health and bodily comportment. Articles that examine the use of food as a form of power and resistance, in both productive and dangerous ways, and which reveal how larger patterns of oppression and marginalization intersect with the social imagery, political economy, public policy, and cultural survival are also desirable.

Topics for this issue might include (but are not limited to):

  • Digital media representation and food culture
  • Food and intersectional identities
  • Food and the politics of representation
  • Food and post-colonialism
  • Neoliberalism and global food regimes
  • Food, privilege, and mediated cultural capital
  • The cultural economics of food
  • Food and transnational identities
  • Food and social activism
  • Food, power, and bodies
  • Food, power, and discourse
  • Food, capitalist forms of signification, and resistance

The Global Media Journal — Canadian Edition (http://www.gmj.uottawa.ca/) welcomes high-quality, original submissions on related topics to the above theme. Authors are strongly encouraged to contribute to the development of communication and media theories, report empirical and analytical research or present case studies, use critical discourses, and/or set out innovative research methodologies. The Journal is a bilingual (English and French) open-access online academic refereed publication.

Deadline: April 15th, 2019

Submissions: Papers (5,000 to 7,500 words), review articles of more than one book (2,500 to 3,000 words), and book reviews (1,000 to 1,200 words).

Method: All manuscripts must be submitted electronically as a word document to Dr. Tina Sikka (tina.sikka@newcastle.ac.uk)

Guidelines: Available at: http://www.gmj-canadianedition.ca/for-author

Decision: April 30th, 2019

Publication: June 30th, 2019

 

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CFP: Special Issue for Food, Culture, & Society on Food and World’s Fairs/Expositions

A call for papers that could be of particular interest to SAFN members and FoodAnthropology readers who study festivals, fairs, and other events. 

Call for Papers: Special Issue on Food at the Fair

Bonnie Miller

This special issue of Food, Culture & Society will examine how fairs and expositions – at local, regional, national, and international levels anytime from the nineteenth century to the present – reflect and shape perceptions of food production and consumption for mass audiences. It will consider the perspectives of fair organizers, publicists, exhibitors, concessionaires, restaurateurs, and consumers in constructing and experiencing the diversity of food cultures on the fairgrounds.  Articles might consider questions like: how did (or does) the exhibition of food reflect transformations in food manufacturing or production over time?  What impact did factors like audience, location, funding, or managerial oversight have on the exhibition of food?  What techniques did food exhibitors use to attract the attention of visitors and how did these techniques shape fairgoers’ experiences?  Were there any significant differences in the food experiences of local vs. international tourists or of visitors of different gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, etc.? How did food exhibits function to reinforce or challenge ideas about progress, technology, agriculture, industrialization, race, region, class, nationality, ethnicity, or gender? What was the relationship between corporate and government food messages at the fair? How did fair exhibits and concessions strive to shape perceptions of the palatability and edibility of foods from around the country or the world and were they successful? How did the concessions and amusement areas of fairs represent food in comparison to more formal exhibition halls?  How did physical space within exhibition halls or of the fairgrounds as a whole impact depictions of food at the fair and its potential appeal to consumers? How did expositions allow for a more diverse, multicultural food experience for fairgoers while also replicating stereotypical and ethnocentric conceptions of specific cuisines? In answering these questions, this special issue invites authors who might take a comparative approach to the study of fairs and expositions, crossing regional or national boundaries or considering fairs of varying audiences and historical periods.

This special issue welcomes papers that place the scholarship on food and on expositions in conversation in order to demonstrate the importance of these mass cultural events as sites where local, regional, national, and corporate food identities were simultaneously made and unmade.

Submitted articles are usually between 8000-9000 words (including all notes, references, etc.) and must not exceed 9000 words in total.

Special Issue Publication Schedule:

Essay abstracts due:  March 15, 2019

Notification of preliminary acceptance (pending peer review): April 1, 2019

Full drafts due: November 1, 2019

Peer review process (4-6 months to review, revise and review again): up through June 2020

Copyediting:  Early 2021

Published: Mid-2021 (April or June issue)

If you are interested in submitting a paper to the special issue, please send a 300-word abstract to guest editor, Bonnie M. Miller (bonnie.miller@umb.edu), by March 15, 2019.

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, January 26, 2019

David Beriss

A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Got items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

Let’s start with a cheery report that argues, as we often do here, that whatever you are doing to improve the planet is probably not enough. Sorry. In this article, from The New Republic, Emily Atkin looks into companies (Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Produce) who send out boxes of damaged produce directly to consumers, as an alternative to the produce being destroyed or left in the field. This seems like a great way to prevent waste in our food system, which is a huge problem. Atkin, drawing on her own research and on analyses from a few food activists, shows that these companies may not actually be helping. This is not a simple story, however, so read it before you drop your subscription to one of these services.

Apparently many citizens of rich countries are worried about getting enough protein. Which seems truly weird, given the amounts of meat people consume, but what do I know? In this article from the Guardian, Bee Wilson writes that “anxiety about protein is one of the things that drives a person to drink a flask of vitamin-padded beige slurry and call it lunch.” Gah! Seriously, however, Wilson’s article explores this situation from a lot of angles, from debates about faddish nutritionism, to the dietary needs of athletes, to people with protein obsessions, and even a strange store called Protein Haus. This could be a really useful article to spark a fad diet discussion in a class!

As something of a corrective to the above fad, the medical journal the Lancet has recently published an article that looks at food systems and healthy diets around the world. They note that “unhealthy diets pose a greater risk to morbidity and mortality than does unsafe sex, and alcohol, drug, and tobacco use combined.” Which is impressive. By the way, this article is a product of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, whose web site you should visit for a lot more interesting content of this sort.

The debate about cultural appropriation and food has been raging for a long time now, on multiple fronts, at least in the U.S. In this intriguing blog posting, food historian Ken Albala raises some questions about the relationship between ancestry and the right to cook particular foods. If you are keeping a list of relevant public debate pieces on this topic, then this is another one to include. The big question, which is not addressed here, is what the debates about food and cultural appropriation are actually about. Probably not food, really.

But wait, there is more. Writing in Eater, Sara Kay draws on her studies of thousands of Yelp reviews to argue that those who comment on the authenticity of restaurants are often writing in support of white supremacy. She writes that “the word ‘authentic’ in food reviews supports white supremacism, and Yelp reviews prove it.” She is pointing to a wide range of expectations that focus mostly on restaurants associated with immigrants or with specific ethnicities (Mexican, Chinese, other Asian cuisines), that build on stereotypes about food and people and that reinforce a kind of casual racism. She is also pointing to a hierarchy of cuisines (with Euro cuisines at the top) that reflects U.S. social structure. This is an important observation and worth making. However, I wonder if the term “white supremacy” is what we should be using to describe this. I admit to having used it myself to describe the massive system that has kept structural racism in place in the U.S. for centuries. But in a moment in our history when the far right—people who explicitly call for and support white supremacy—is resurgent, perhaps we want to be more careful. It is one thing to call attention to and even denounce structural racism (the hierarchy of cuisines) and those who support it (perhaps these Yelp reviewers), it is quite another to associate those reviewers with the people who marched in Charlottesville. Unless you believe that the only ideological positions possible are “woke anti-racist” and “Nazi,” maybe we should use slightly more nuanced language.

Or perhaps invoking white supremacy requires building a more detailed argument. Writing in Civil Eats, Megan Horst looks into the reasons why farmers of color seem dramatically underrepresented in agriculture today. She explores the history of farming and land access in the U.S., discusses policies supporting different kinds of farming, notes the history of slavery and other forms of exploitation, and puts this into the broader context of the challenges faced by farmers today. Horst considers all of the history and policies together to form a kind of actually-existing white supremacy, which seems distinct from the far-right ideologues in the media of late. Perhaps juxtaposing these two uses of the concept would generate an interesting debate.

Returning, briefly, to those Yelp reviews: the stereotypes that associate the foods of certain non-European groups with both cheapness and a problematic “authenticity” have been the object of a lot of criticism recently. In scholarly work, Krishnendu Ray’s writing has contributed significantly to focusing the debate. Diep Tran’s piece on NPR raised the question of cheapness in 2017. And this has had an impact, I think, on the discourse about food. In the Washington Post, food writer Tim Carman has recently announced that he is dropping the title (“the $20 diner”) because it does a disservice to the restaurants he writes about.

Switching topics: Airport food is generally awful. It helps, when traveling (at least in the U.S.) to have low expectations. I don’t know if Tortas Frontera, a chain of restaurants owned by Rick Bayless, located mostly in O’Hare Airport in Chicago, is any good, but the story of the pork they use is itself quite interesting. Writing for Fooditor, Michael Gebert describes the steps that turn pig into sandwich, most of which occur on a farm owned by Greg Gunthorp, in Indiana. This is not only farm-to-table airport food, but also a very inspiring story of challenging the industrial food system. Maybe the story makes the food taste better too. Let us know if you happen to go through O’Hare and try it.

We toss around theories of race, class, and gender in the social sciences and often forget, I think, that non-academics do not think about these things in the same way. Take, for instance, this very odd yet alluring article on Waffle House “rockstar” short order cooks. The author, Theodore Ross, appears to be an experienced, thoughtful, veteran journalist and, also, a white guy (he says so in the article). The article is a meditation, often laced with pop psychology references, about masculinity, race, and class, all while observing and talking about (and somewhat with) Waffle House short order cooks in Atlanta. Ross really does not understand academic discussions of gender, as this quote demonstrates: “Yet men do exist — or they don’t, and masculinity is “socially constructed,” as is more generally thought these days, which is likely true but has no bearing on the embedded concepts about manliness that sway my perceptions — and these ideas about ourselves exist, if not intellectually then emotionally.” Ross may have some insights into the contradictory nature of work in places like Waffle House. Students could have great fun critiquing this piece, I think. Also, if Mr. Ross should read this: yes, the “embedded concepts about manliness” you refer to are socially constructed and that does in fact matter for your analysis. Socially constructed is not the opposite of real. Trust me on this.

Let’s finish this opinionated digest with a drink. If you have been to Louisiana, you may have been astonished by the garish neon slushy drinks available all over Bourbon Street, as well as the drive-through versions of the same that we have elsewhere in the state. My late lamented colleague, historian Michael Mizell-Nelson, wrote a rather amusing history of these drinks, which may have been invented at the Wilmart (that is not a typo) Liquor Store in Ruston, Louisiana, which is closer to Arkansas then to New Orleans. The complete story of this invention, which Mizell-Nelson (a Louisiana native) referred to as an example of “the less well-documented genius of Louisiana” will amuse and delight you, probably more than the drinks themselves. You can read the first part here and the second one here. I recommend drinking something else, maybe a Sazerac, after you are done.

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Filed under agriculture, anthropology, anthropology of food, food history, gender, racism

CFP: Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food 2019

logo ASHF 2019.inddCALL FOR PAPERS

Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food 2019

15-16 November

(Post)colonial foodways: creating, negotiating, and resisting transnational food systems

Because of its manifold effects on individuals, cultures, and countries, from the 15th century onwards the colonial era had far-reaching impacts on existing foodways. Colonial rulers often imposed exploitative food systems upon the colonized, resulting in relationships that have been perpetuated, mediated, and resisted to this day. Because of their troubling and complex legacy, colonial foodways have become an essential theme in recent histories of transnational food production, consumption and trade practices from early modern mercantilism to the present. By shifting the focus from two-way colonizer-colonized relationships towards (post)colonial networks and their various nexuses, truly transnational histories are emerging that decenter Europe and go beyond traditional narratives.

Food history and (post)colonial history intersect in various ways. Theories about exploration and exploitation offer insights into (proto)capitalism and the consumption of commodities, the agency of populations in the Global South, the transfer of food technologies, and the ecological impact of restructuring and repurposing vast areas of land. Studying material culture and (post)colonial food customs, furthermore, advances an in-depth understanding of the historical negotiation of identities and ideologies. The hybridization of national and migrant cuisines, culinary (neo)colonialism, and shifting perceptions of gastronomic ‘authenticity’ all underwrite the continuing influence of the colonial era on how we speak about food and, subsequently, about ourselves.

Topics

This year’s Symposium encourages scholars from all relevant fields of research to explore the continuing relevance of the links between (post)colonial studies and food history. We invite abstracts for papers covering any topic related to the study of this theme including, but not limited to, the following:

  • (Post)colonial food rituals and customs
  • Trade, production and consumption of colonial commodities, such as coffee, sugar, chocolate, and spices
  • Migration, diaspora, and hybridization of culinary cultures
  • Negotiation and ways of resistance: agency in (post)colonial food practices
  • Representation and ideologies: nostalgia, tradition and authenticity
  • Colonialism’s nutritional, economic, political, and ecological impacts on global foodways
  • Colonial exploitative food systems, hunger and resilience

Guidelines Paper Proposals

The symposium program consists of plenary keynote lectures, paper presentations and panel discussions. If you are interested in presenting a paper at the symposium, please submit an abstract before 5 March 2019. Please expect to be presenting to an audience of up to 200 people, including academic as well as professional participants. The symposium language is English. Presenters of accepted papers are asked to speak 20 minutes as lively and engaging as possible, followed by a discussion with the panel and the audience under the supervision of a session chair.

Applications should include:

  • Title of proposed paper
  • Abstract (maximum 500 words)
  • Biographical information (short CV)
  • Contact information (e-mail, telephone and postal address)

Applications should be sent by the deadline of 5 March 2019 to: Foodhistory-ub@uva.nl

Notification of acceptance:

As it may not be possible to include everyone’s submission, the organizing committee and advisory board will make a selection. You will be notified if the paper is accepted by 1 May 2019.

Organisation

The sixth Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food will take place at the Aula of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) on 15-16 November 2019. The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food is the result of a collaborative partnership between Special Collections (UvA), the Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (UvA) and the research unit Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Advisory Board

Prof. Dr. Ir. Louise O. Fresco; Mrs. Claudia Roden; Prof. Dr. Peter Scholliers; Prof. Dr. Irene E. Zwiep

Aims

The symposium is an annual point of assembly and an exchange of knowledge in the field of food history. It intends to stimulate debate and research that bridges the gap between different disciplines. Submissions are encouraged to use an interdisciplinary approach, in which theory and methods from diverse (social) sciences are appropriated or from other disciplines that take a historical stance. Another aim is to transfer academic research to a wider public and stimulate research using the Special Collection of the University of Amsterdam. The symposium is therefore targeted at both an academic and a professional audience.

Organizing Committee

IJsbrand van Dijk; Joke Mammen; Antonia Mazel; Jon Verriet; Ingrid de Zwarte

More information and updates about the symposium

http://bijzonderecollectiesuva.nl/foodhistory/amsterdam-symposium-on-the-history-of-food/

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