Author Archives: reblack

Open Anthropology Features Food Anthropology

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The June 2016 issue of Open Anthropology is dedicated to Food Anthropology. Many SAFN members are featured in this open-access selection of articles and reviews from American Anthropological Association journals. Check it out!

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Filed under AAA, anthropology, anthropology of food, publications

SAFN at the ASFS Scarborough Fare

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SAFN is a co-sponsor of the Association for the Study of Food and Society conference that will be held in Toronto next week from June 22-25. A number of SAFN members will be participating and we are organizing an informal gathering for SAFN members on Friday from 4-5pm.

Here is a partial of list of SAFN participants:

Abby Golub will present a poster at the pre-conference student day on June 21st. It is called: “How is Life After Fruit Picking? Precarity, Aspirations, and Social Mobility in the Life Trajectories of Hindi-Speaking Migrant Agriculture Workers in Belgium.”

David Beriss is participating in a roundtable on Sidney Mintz “A Sweet and Powerful Contribution: Sidney Mintz and Food Studies (A Multidisciplinary Roundtable)”. This is session C6 on Thursday, June 23 1:30-2:45. Beriss will also be giving a paper, “City in a Cup: The 2013 Public Drinking Crisis in New Orleans” in panel F2 “An Intersectional Approach to the Gentrification of Culinary Knowledge” on Friday, June 24, 10:15-11:30. Ashante Reese is the chair of this session and she will also be presenting on this panel. The title of her paper is “D.C. is Mambo Sauce: Race, Class, and Authentic Consumption

Rachel Black, Alyson Young, Mike Burton and Rick Wilk will give papers in session D1 “Food and Gender: Anthropological Perspectives” on Thursday, June 23 from 3:15-4:30.

Rachel Black will also be participating in the roundtable session L6 “Professional Development: What Do Journal Editors Want?”

Friday, June 24, Janet Chrzan is giving a paper in panel H1 “Pseudoscience and Nutrition: The Enduring Appeal of Magical Thinking, Dietary Fads and Nutritional Extremism”. The title of her paper is “Organics: Food, Fantasy or Fetish”

Amy Trubek will be participating in a number of panels:

  • Roundtable: Food and Agricultural research: What can French and American researchers learn from each other?
  • Panel G8 “What Does Income Have to Do With It? Making Meals and Socioeconomic Status in the United States”. Her paper is entitled “Time is Money: A Century of Changes in Cooks, Cooking Times and Eating Locales”
  • Roundtable 15: Changing Diets, Changing Minds: The Menus of Change University Research Collaborative
  • Roundtable: What can STS offer Food Studies?

Penny Van Esterik will participate in the roundtable C1.“Feminist Food Studies, Part 3 of 3: Toward a Feminist Food Studies” and L5. “Conversations in Food Studies: Working the Boundaries”

Helen Valliantos is participating in the panel B11. “The Politics of Milk and Maternal Health”. Her paper is entitled “Mothers’ Food and Health Perceptions and Behaviours in Ghana”

On Thursday at 10:15, Greg de St. Maurice and Rick Wilk will be on Roundtable B6, “Washoku in Jeopardy? The cultural economy and future of Japanese cuisine.”

If your name is missing, please contact Rachel Black with your details.

 

 

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A Food Anthropologist at the John Dewey Kitchen Institute

Rachel Black
President, Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
Connecticut College

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the John Dewey Kitchen Institute at the University of Vermont. The goal of this three-day workshop was to “emphasize experiential education, of course in teaching about food but also as an important pedagogical approach for teaching any subject.” As a long-time believer and practitioner of hands-on learning, I was eager to hone skills and think more about how to create opportunities for experiential learning in my anthropology of food classes.

Getting our senses warmed up straight away, we passed around, smelled and identified plates of herbs and spices. The instructors then asked the 12 participants to think of a life experience we could relate to a specific herb or spice. These flavorful narratives were a great way to get to know each other. At this point, we also began to discuss John Dewey’s philosophy of education, which would provide the underpinnings for our activities and reflections over the next few days. Instructors Lisa Heldke and Cynthia Belliveau gave the class a list of 12 Deweyan tenets. These ranged from “Education is experience” to “Enquiry is value-laden”. The tenets were an attempt to answer the questions: “What does it mean to learn, and how should that understanding inform our teaching and learning in the food studies classroom?” and “What is the world like, how does inquiry work, and how should these inform our teaching/learning?”

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Using all our senses to think about lunch at the Dewey Kitchen Institute.

After a brief kitchen orientation, we engaged in our first hands-on activity–knife skills. We were instructed how to chop onions and carrots and then given knives, cutting boards and ingredients. What became quickly apparent was the amount of focus the activity took, whether you were a professional chef or someone who eats out for most meals. This is when I began to understand that the goal here was not learning to cook but rather cooking to learn. It was the reflection on the embodiment of skill and the presence of the mind in the body that resonated with me in this first lab. This activity was focused on the fifth tenet “play”: “Far from being trivial, play is “interested absorption in activity for the sake of activity itself.”

A diagram of mise en place.

A diagram of mise en place.

The next day we discussed the concept of mise en place and how this type of kitchen organization task might be used to get students to think about planning and organization in new ways. As we drew out our mise en place, I began to think about the spatial relationships between sensory experiences. That was a new dimension for me. I never really gave much thought to where I put my ingredients and why. After some reflection, we  began to prepare lunch. This was an activity that not only fed us but taught us to think about divisions of labor and timing in the kitchen. This activity could be seen as an exercise in “education as a practice of democracy”. Having to organize ourselves and work together put this tenet in to action. I began to think about all the applications for such skills beyond the kitchen.

We did a number of tastings in the course, from the herbs on the first day to local craft beers on the last day. We were not provided with tasting sheets but we did discuss the different ways in which we might structure tastings in order to achieve specific learning outcomes. Here we explored the tenet “theory is practice” and how “when theory and practice operate together effectively, learners act reflectively and inquiringly, with a sense of purpose and for the sake of learning.”

On the last day, we were given a market basket and asked to cook lunch in teams. We were told that our dish had to embody one of the Dewey tenets. This was a challenging culinary and organizational task. My partner and I focused on “chance and change.” Although we ultimately produced some tasty poached eggs on toast with a romesco sauce, we felt that the experience was mediated by this tenet: we did not know what we would get for ingredients, what would happen in the cooking process, and we felt the need to adapt to the unexpected.

As an anthropologist, I kept thinking about the ways I could introduce cultural diversity in to these exercises. While Dewey’s philosophy is second nature to most of us who do fieldwork, this workshop was an opportunity to bring the worlds of food studies and anthropology together. As I prepare my courses for the fall semester, I will be thinking of ways to bring experiential learning scenarios in to my anthropology of food courses.

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Cooking to learn.

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Filed under anthropology, anthropology of food, food education, Food Studies, teaching

SAFN Membership Drive

 

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We’re having a membership drive! SAFN members, please tell friends and colleagues about our section and ask them to join. A lot of people do research on food and nutrition but they are not part of SAFN. We can’t understand why they are missing out on being part of such a great community. The benefits of membership are many:

  • become part of a supportive and engaging community
  • receive the SAFN newsletter
  • access the SNAC 4 syllabi set
  • attend the SAFN reception at the AAA meeting (we always have the best food)
  • take advantage of reserved seats for SAFN-sponsored workshops and special events at the AAA meeting
  • be featured on the Food Anthropology blog

Students can take advantage of the newly reduced cost for student membership: it is now only $10 for students to join SAFN.

For each person an existing members signs up, their name will be entered into a draw. Prizes will include olive oil, a SAFN membership, SAFN swag and other fun food and anthro-related items. Send your name and the new member’s name to reblack (at) gmail.com. Prizes will be distributed at the SAFN reception during the AAA conference in November or by mail for those not attending the meeting.

Join today!

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Happy New Year!

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The Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition

wishes you a happy new year.

May your 2016 be full of joy and delicious!

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Food Studies Post-Doctoral Position – NYU

The Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at NYU invites
applications from outstanding candidates for a full-time Postdoctoral
Research Fellowship. The position is within the Food Studies Program. It is
available for one year, with the possibility of renewal for one additional
year (contingent on availability of funding). Candidates must have received
a PhD within the last five years, with potential for outstanding research
in an area aligned with the department’s work as specified below:

*GOALS and SUBJECT AREAS*
1. Advance the field of Food Studies
▪ expand the boundaries of the field
▪ demonstrate the importance of Food Studies for other
disciplines
▪ advance the profile of Food Studies within NYU
▪ strengthen networks with other Food Studies or relevant
departments elsewhere

2. Emphasis will be placed on the cultural elements of Food Studies
▪ historical, modern and critical cultural, sociological, geographical, and
anthropological approaches will be prioritized
3. While not a requirement, selection will reward candidates whose work
addresses local-global connections, particularly in urban centers
▪ boundary crossing and exchange (intra and inter-ethnic,
international, etc.)
▪ global circulations of people, ideas, and products
▪ city geographies, demographics, and food environments

4. Particular attention will be paid to candidates whose work merges
aesthetic/cultural and economic/material dimensions
▪ and projects that engage seriously with taste, pleasure, and identity
alongside issues of regulation, transportation, commercialization, or other
biophysical aspects of food production and consumption
· candidates who can show competency in using mapping software and have
affinity for the digital humanities (e.g. in CartoDB, Omeka, etc.)

*FELLOWSHIP RESPONSBILITIES*

Fellows will be expected to:
▪ Continue research and expand their contribution to the field of Food
Studies while at NYU
-publish in appropriate academic journals
-present in appropriate academic conferences
▪ Play an active role in the Program, Department, broader NYU and Food
Studies community
-present their research formally at least once during the year (ideally
once per semester, in different formats and with different audiences)
-attend and participate regularly in relevant talks within the department
and beyond
-nurture relationships with students and faculty
▪ Teach one or two courses in a year (to be determined in discussion with
the Chair and the Program Director)
▪ Support the program for relevant initiatives (such as grant writing,
aiding in partnership development and organizing colloquia).

Applicants must send: 1) CV (2-pages maximum), 2) three reference letters
(to be sent directly to krishnendu.ray@nyu.edu and pvs1@nyu.edu), 3) a
statement (2 pages) describing a one-year research plan.

The application package should be sent to pvs1@nyu.edu and
krishnendu.ray@nyu.edu (electronic submission of one complete PDF file is
required). The deadline for submission is February 15th 2016. If the
search is successful the term will begin September 2016.

New York University is an Equal Opportunity Employer. New York University
is committed to a policy of equal treatment and opportunity in every aspect
of its hiring and promotion process without regard to race, color, creed,
religion, sex, pregnancy or childbirth (or related medical condition),
sexual orientation, partnership status, gender and/or gender identity or
expression, marital or parental status, national origin,
ethnicity, alienage or citizenship status, veteran or military status, age,
disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, domestic violence victim
status, unemployment status, or any other legally protected basis. Women,
racial and ethnic minorities, persons of minority sexual orientation or
gender identity, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged
to apply for vacant positions at all levels.

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Romanian shepherds at the baracades

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Shepherds protesting in Bucharest. Photo EPA.

Everyone once in a while I read a news headline that makes me do a double take: “Romanian riot police fire tear gas at protesting shepherds” caught my attention in the December 15 issue of the British newspaper the Guardian. What is going on in Romania and why are shepherds, generally not a highly politicized group, being teargassed in Bucharest?

Over a thousand angry sheep herders gathered outside the parliament building in the Romanian capital to protest a new law limiting the number of sheep dogs they can use and forbidding the grazing of sheep during the winter. Politicians argued that Carpathian sheep dogs kill deer and wild boars, favorite animals among hunters, and that grazing sheep in the winter is not environmentally sustainable.

This new law was proposed by a group supporting hunting, an elite pass time that the former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu made popular. Hunting in Romania still retains its association with aristocracy and privilege. In contrast, sheep farming is a central agricultural activity and an important part of many local economies in rural areas. There are an estimated 10 million sheep and 1.5 million goats in rural Romania.

Images of shepherds in their wooly capes standing in front of the capital building initially made me think that this was a story about conflicts between tradition and modernity, and resistance to a changing way of life in rural areas à la Slow Food. However, there is little that is modern here. What was at stake were two age-old conflicting uses of land–pastoralism and hunting. This riot reveals the imposition of power on the part of elites to protect their interests and the rural population’s pushback.

What is truly incredible is the political response of shepherds and the success of their protest. Some traveled more than 300 miles to join the protest in Bucharest. Although the protest turned ugly as riot police teargassed the angry sheep herders who were rushing the barricades, the outcome was that the government temporarily lifted the bans and promised to find a permanent solution. While being interviewed on camera, one shepherd defends his right to graze his sheep on the land he owns. Another shepherd munching on a sausage, holds up a piece of cheese and declares the deliciousness of their cheese. Perhaps the cornerstone of this defense lies with taste.

 

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Filed under anthropology, anthropology of food, culture and agriculture, hunting