Yesterday we announced this year’s winner of the 2016 Christine Wilson Undergraduate Award and today we are proud to announce the winner of the 2016 Christine Wilson Graduate Award.This award goes to outstanding research papers by graduate students writing from the various perspectives embraced by Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition, including nutrition, food studies and ethnography.
Congratulations to Imogen Bevan, from the University of Edinburgh, winner of this year’s graduate Christine Wilson Award, for her essay “Care is Meat and Tatties, Not Curry.” Her bio and an abstract for her essay are below.
Quick reminder: if you are a student who will be writing food research essays, consider applying next year!
The awards will be formally presented at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, this week, in Minneapolis! Please attend the SAFN reception, award ceremony, and distinguished speaker event on Saturday evening (11/19) to learn more about the winners and the awards. That will start at 7:45pm in room 101A.
Imogen Bevan is a postgraduate student in medical anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. Imogen has conducted ethnographic research in France and in Britain, focusing on experiences of the body and examining how different substances are incorporated through social practices. During her master’s in social anthropology at the University of Lyon, Imogen participated in a joint program with the University of Amsterdam, becoming a junior researcher on Anita Hardon’s ChemicalYouth team. Her published ethnographic work examines people’s lived experiences of smoking and e-cigarette use in France, and the socialities that emerge through engagements with non-medicalised forms of substitution. This study experimented with sensory and creative visual methods to explore what technologies and substances might do for their users in social context.
Imogen’s master’s dissertation at Edinburgh and projected PhD research explore the role of sugar in social relationships in Scotland. This research asks how the value of sugar consumption is produced through everyday practices in different contexts of consumption, at a time when global health institutions denounce sugar’s nutritional ‘emptiness’ and aetiological role in the onset of obesity, diabetes type 2 and dental disease.
Imogen’s interests include anthropology of the body, sensory anthropology, health and well-being, kinship studies, and visual methods.
Care is Meat and Tatties, Not Curry
This paper examines the way care is enacted by members of a Church of Scotland congregation through food provision and food preparation practices in Edinburgh. This ethnography compares three activities: The Foodbank, an informal weekly food distribution, and a non-profit café, sited in the parish church’s halls. Exploring an informant’s assertion that the church does not give people “any old food”, I chart the lives of different foods as they travel from supermarket shelves to church storage rooms, as they are transformed into emergency parcels, a hot meal, or iced display cakes – in the aim of improving the well-being of members of the community.
While the Trussel Trust’s standardised Foodbank guidelines are calculated in terms of dietary values, my study shows that in order to provide care, congregation members also work with other values – the palatability, familiarity, practicality, aesthetic and monetary values of food, eaters’ dignity, individual taste preferences and cooking technologies, as well as volunteers’ available time and physical safety. Some overlapped seamlessly, others clashed. In all three settings, food-related care emerges as an ongoing compromise between competing contextual motives – a practice involving attention to detail, adjustments and extensive and tinkering.
Congregation members’ adjustable care goes beyond the marginalised individual. Through food, people are also caring for the survival of their church as a relevant institution, and its halls as a ‘living’ building. By grappling with what they see as the dangers of lack of money, lack of social interaction, or lack of culinary knowledge, congregation members ground their church within national and local networks, assigning the church an active role in changing community.
Written as an essay for a MSc ethnographic methods class, this study was conducted as exploratory fieldwork for my projected PhD research, which examines the value of sugar consumption in social relationships in urban Scotland.