We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Christine Wilson Awards. These awards are presented to outstanding undergraduate and graduate student research papers that examine topics within the perspectives of nutrition, food studies, and anthropology. Award winners each receive a check from SAFN and a free one-year membership in the American Anthropological Association and the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition. Of course, they also receive fame and glory.
The award committee this year was led by SAFN Vice-President Amy Trubek.
The awards will be officially presented to the winners at the SAFN reception during the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, December 1, 2017, from 7:45-9:00 pm, in Washington DC. In coming days, we will be posting more information about the upcoming meeting, so watch this space!
For now, congratulations to Sarah Howard, a PhD candidate in anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London and to Kate Rhodes, an anthropology major at Macalester College, in St. Paul, Minnesota, for the two winning Christine Wilson Award papers. Their paper titles and abstracts are below.
Coffee and the State in Rural Ethiopia
Although coffee is enjoyed for the material qualities of its taste, smell and stimulant effect, it is the social and symbolic aspects of coffee drinking that make it central to daily life in Ethiopia. Based on research in eastern Amhara Region between 2011 and 2015, the paper explores the buna ceremony during which coffee is prepared and served, and its role in the lives of rural government workers. Starting with an interest in the disconnect between the reach and control that the Ethiopian government is popularly supposed to hold over its citizens and the lived reality of low-level state workers who are charged with exerting this control, I realised that coffee consumption could be a useful lens through which to review received ideas about state power and hierarchy. While Ethiopian society is commonly portrayed as highly authoritarian with a vertical power structure, this paper shows, through the medium of coffee practices, a range of forms of sociality between government workers and farmers, encompassing closeness and trust as well as highlighting the material and social disadvantages faced by the bureaucrats, complicating the picture of a strict divide between state and society. The kin-like social relations that are built between state employees through buna drinking help to mitigate their vulnerability, as well as build a space for them to critically reflect on their position in ‘producing the nation’. This paper is thus a contribution to calls for attention to the ways in which material practices, such as coffee drinking, continually constitute the state as a reality.
Having a Steak in the Matter: Gender in the Buenos Aires Asado
Asados have their roots in the romanticized culture of the Argentine gauchos, or cattle herders, where men, free from the confines of urban life, could express their masculinity through cooking meat outside over an open fire. These macho characteristics have reinforced the notion that asados are a masculine activity. In this paper I address why it is that women cook on a daily basis, but the gastronomic identity of Argentina is rooted in the single dish men traditionally cook. I argue that the culturally accepted deviation from the historically feminine kitchen space can be explained through the symbolic importance of male interactions with meat throughout Argentine history, the construction of a masculine meat narrative, and a media that sustains traditional culinary gender norms. I break the concept of a masculine meat narrative down into the three factors that work to define meat as male, mainly the physical characteristics of an asado that link it to the time of the gauchos: fire, cooking outdoors, and the primitive manipulation of bloody meat. I supplement a review of the literature on this subject with opinions and anecdotes from informants which illuminate trends in perceptions of masculinity from both men and women. I conclude that the recent push for gender equality in Argentina, specifically the rise of the Ni Una Menos movement to end gender violence, is mirrored in asado culture, as women publicly take to the parrilla.