Tag Archives: Anthropology of Food

AAA CFP: Famines and Food Crises in Africa

For the upcoming 2017 AAA meetings in Washington DC. Contact the organizers listed below if you are interested in participating.

Famines and Food Crises in Africa: Causes, Consequences and Remediation: How Anthropologists Are Responding

Anita Spring- U Florida (aspring@ufl.edu) and Sol Katz-U Penn (skatz2001@aol.com) organizers

Famines and food crises in Africa and some Middle Eastern countries bordering the Red Sea are created and complicated by war, political unrest, climate change, continued population growth, and economic factors. A chaotic decline in food resources for at least 20 million people extends east to west from Nigeria to South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, mostly due to political unrest and instability, with these four countries having the greatest severity in Africa and the world according to the UN. Other climate-related famine countries are in the Horn of Africa and include Sudan and Ethiopia, while political unrest affects food production and distribution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (central Africa) and drought conditions obtain in the southern and eastern Africa (Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), where prolonged and serious drought strains the economic and social capacity to cope with and develop new solutions in these recurring drought scenarios. Further complicating relief in many of these countries are the reduced expenditures from multilateral agencies of the UN and bilateral assistance from the US, UK, EU, and Japan. By contrast, China has stepped up to provide public- and private-sector funding and development assistance, but the magnitude, methods and results need to be studied to ascertain the impacts. This session examines from an anthropological perspective the causes, consequences, and their efforts for remedial and action plans developed by participating multilateral, bilateral and NGO agencies aimed at mitigating food and agriculture disasters, and for promulgating new solutions both political and technological. A major problem currently facing famine-relief programs is the uncertainty of UN funding, particularly affecting the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Program (WFP) and related emergency resources due in part to the proposed US under-funding for UN programs. This round table aims to summarize issues and remedies using the data from several perspectives. Questions to be addressed in this session include, but are not limited to the following issues: (1) How are anthropologists conceptualizing, identifying, and mitigating food-system disasters, using their the long-term experiences in studying previous and recurrent calamities? (2) How do current political mishandling of agricultural production and distribution affect outcomes versus what happens if “more enlightened” production and distribution methods, as well as better marketing strategies and financial instruments are introduced? (3) Are any of these likely to mitigate the food crises, and if so how? This round table also considers new and innovative farm-managed methods such as conservation agriculture and carbon sequestration in soils, alternative food sources and better food storage, new financial instruments and index-insurance for farmers, and producer-friendly government policies in terms of production and distribution. The need for greater economic understanding of the food supply is a crucial and missing link between the planning which is often done by Big Ag economics, and the need for “Anthronomics”, that uses the insights and questions of anthropology and the methods of economics to address new solutions for food system problems.

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AAA CFP: Circulations, Logics, and Logistics of Food

We are looking for 1 more paper for the following session. Please send abstracts to Micah M. Trapp, mmtrapp@memphis.edu, by Tuesday Apr. 11th.

Circulations, Logics, and Logistics of Food

In The Mushroom at the End of the World, Anna Tsing describes capitalism as a translation machine: mushrooms transpire and are plucked from the forest, generating a variety of gift and commodity forms. Asking what it is that can possibly live in the ruins of capitalism, Tsing’s meditative account reveals the complex and transformative potential of the mushroom as an invasive, magical spore and multifarious source of meaning and value. The mushroom demands that we follow where it is that our food resources go, but also the generative life along these pathways to understand the emergence of conflicted and conflicting forms of meaning and value. In this session we consider how food circulates. We treat circulation broadly as transformational force and evoke different theoretical understandings of the ways food moves to explore how meanings and value accumulate and dissipate in our food systems.

Following classic studies of political economy, circulation tracks processes from production to consumption. Situated within theories of a moral economy, circulations articulate social relationships and values. As a semiotic endeavor, the circulation of food transpires through imagery and representations. Circulation is also an embodied phenomenon, foods circulate through and nourish the human body, while pesticides invade and seep through the pores of farmworkers. Nested within discursive politics, “healthy foods” circulate bodily ideals and discrimination, while advocates of food access aim to remedy the unequal circulations of food.

Papers will seek to unearth and articulate underlying connections between food logics—the social frameworks we use to explain, motivate, and propel food-based action—and food logistics, the systems, connections, and exchanges required to sustain human nourishment. How does one’s logic of farming, for example, intersect with the logistics of operating a viable business? How do the logistics of subsidized food supply chains refract upon the logics of humanitarianism or social welfare? Distribution, attendant inequalities, and the hope for equality lie at the heart of our inquiries as we consider how food logics and logistics shift from reciprocal links and fluid movements to strangleholds and breaking points.

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Christine Wilson Awards

The Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition is pleased to invite students to submit papers in competition for the Christine Wilson Award. This award is presented to outstanding undergraduate and graduate student research papers that examine topics within the perspectives of nutrition, food studies, and anthropology.

Papers may report on research undertaken in whole or in part by the author. Co-authored work is acceptable, provided that the submitting student is the first author. Papers must have as their primary focus an anthropological approach to the study of food and/or nutrition and must present original, empirical research; literature reviews are not eligible. Papers that propose a new conceptual framework or outline novel research designs or methodological approaches are especially welcome. Winners will be recognized and presented with a cash award at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association and receive a year’s membership in SAFN.

Students (undergraduate or graduate) must be currently enrolled or enrolled during the past academic year. The text of papers should be no longer than 25 pages, double-spaced and follow AAA style guidelines.

The text of papers should be no longer than 25 pages, double-spaced and follow  AAA style guidelines.  Please delete identifying information and submit along with the CWA cover sheet.

DEADLINE: July 1, 2017

Please submit as an email attachment to:

Dr. Amy Trubek (atrubek@uvm.edu), University of Vermont

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, April 3, 2017

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 U.S. policies that can have an impact on what we eat and drink. Over at Modern Farmer, Brian Barth has this round-up of cheery news, from the incredibly slow confirmation process for President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Agriculture (still not confirmed), to proposed budget cuts for USDA and EPA, and opposition to something called (not by its authors), the “filthy food act.”

On that last point, you can read more about the effort to streamline government regulations (as it pertains to food) in a variety of places. On the broad issue of regulatory reform, this article from Politico provides a helpful overview. It is worth being skeptical of anyone who claims that they just want to make government more efficient, especially if the areas in which they focus their efforts happen to benefit their supporters. This editorial at Food Safety News makes the case that the regulatory reform proposed by the current administration will significantly undermine the regulation of food safety. Here is another analysis, from the Environmental Defense Fund.

On the proposed budget cuts, this article from Civil Eats, points out some of the effects of the president’s proposed budget on the regulation of food, on agriculture, and on food-related workers. It is, of course, only a proposed budget blueprint, not real appropriations for real agencies. However, the proposed budget is meant to provide insight into the new administration’s priorities, in case you were wondering about them.

We all probably know that kids who are not hungry do better in school. According to this article from The Atlantic, recent research in American schools suggests that better quality school lunches can improve student learning (or at least test scores) too. The idea that studies like this are necessary to justify feeding children better food at school tells us a great deal about American thinking about food, education, children, and more.

On the NPR blog The Salt, yet another reminder that the food industry (in this case, restaurants, bars, and agriculture) plays a significant role in human trafficking. Many people find themselves working in what amounts to slavery. The article refers to a recent report human trafficking and modern slavery, which you can find here.

The state of Arkansas recently passed legislation that would make anyone who takes pictures or videos of activities in nonpublic areas of private businesses subject to civil penalties. This is being criticized as “ag-gag” legislation because it was written to protect the poultry industry from animal rights activists. As it is written, the law could also limit the activities of whistleblowers in any number of industries.

What might those activists want to photograph? Perhaps meat processing plants. In Brazil, one of the world’s largest meatpacking companies is in the middle of a scandal in which its employees have been selling rancid meat to schools, grocery stores, etc. This article, from Civil Eats, points out that even if you buy only locally produced meat, you may still feel the global effects of the industrial meat industry.

From pemmican and tourtière, to poutine and Tim Horton’s donuts, this interesting article uses iconic foods to tell a story about Canadian history. Fascinating, to be sure, but also clearly just a start. Still, you have to give the author, Ian Mosby, credit for hard eyed realism. He includes fish sticks, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, pablum, and other items that one generally does not associate with the word “cuisine” but that have had a real impact on everyday diets.

While we are in Canada, it is interesting to consider the ongoing debates around the links between food and ethnicity. This article, by Sara Peters, makes a case against something called “culinary gentrification,” which is the appropriation of foods (or of discourses about food) of an immigrant group by people in positions of greater power. The setting is Toronto, where there are indeed many kinds of people and foods.

Just when you thought it was safe to talk about urban agriculture, Wayne Roberts decided to review three books and insist on the use of the plural—urban agricultures—when discussing the topic. That covers an actual serious set of questions and issues that really are worth thinking about, like the relationship between urban agriculture(s) and urban planning, or the ways people can make urban agricultural practices part of their lives (like, I assume, cleaning up after your dog). There are a lot of ideas covered here, many of which could be of use in urban anthropology or food and culture classes.

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EM Thoughts and Readings!

Ellen Messer

March 17–St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday during Lent, when Roman Catholics ordinarily forego meat. But this year the Boston-based Roman Catholic Cardinal O’Malley gave everyone permission to eat meat–i.e., corned beef–so they could celebrate their heritage.

The unconsummated union of Unilever and Kraft-Heinz continues to generate commentary. Jack Nelson, in the Financial Times, praised Unilever’s “responsible capitalism” as contrasted with Kraft Heinz’s “red blooded cost cutters” who cut jobs and divisions with abandon, with no concern for affected workers and places. Will Hutton argues that “companies with a declared purpose perform better” (a reference to responsible capitalism as opposed to unbridled profits). Share holders, according to various sources, are of mixed opinions. Depends who you read and trust.

Avian flu has struck Tennessee farms that supply Tyson Foods. All birds within a 6 mile radius of the observed outbreak have been culled. Stay tuned. This is not the end of the story. Ask: besides the birds, who suffers the losses? You can track these and other avian flu pandemics here.

Score spuds for “The Martian.” The International Potato Center (CIP) one of the consortium of international agricultural research centers, this one based in Lima, Peru, has imitated “The Martian” (i.e., the movie’s) potato experiment on desolate Mars — this time for real in the Peruvian desert. The experiment reports promising results! The CIP experiment can also be looked at the opposite way: using Peruvian conditions to shape understandings of what might be grown on Mars under what modified conditions.

The Philippines, annoyed at the highest levels with US policy, has struck a trade deal to send agricultural (among other) products to China. Officially warming to the Chinese as a partner, the government is also scorning the US.

In keeping with new US administration policy on “America First” high level US officials push to raise US scrutiny of China food deals in the US (e.g., Chinese investments that result in takeover of US food companies).

Allegations assert that (a now retired) EPA official colluded with Monsanto to hide disease risks of glyphosate (Roundup herbicide) exposure.  Succinct summary of the issues can be accessed here. Almost simultaneously, EU official chemical assessment office gave glyphosate a pass on cancer risk, although the findings remain contentious, and no one questions findings that Roundup harms aquatic life. (See news summary here.)

What do I think? Company lobbyists are always trying to influence regulations and findings. Results of experiments designed to judge carcinogenicity, and impacts on ordinary people who use Roundup, depend on terms of exposure to the chemical and individual vulnerability.  As a result, different studies reach different conclusions with opposite safety-policy implications.  Why are these issues surfacing now?  Glyphosate’s safety evaluation is up for renewal in the US and Europe (and the world).

On another topic, leading chocolate companies have pledged to advance platforms and guidelines for sustainability; more precisely, to prevent deforestation.  Some of these companies in the past have posted confusing standards.  Note that the efforts are addressed at high levels (states, corporations) and while they voice concerns about small farmers, don’t formally integrate them into the proposed decision making for new normative practices.

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Research Methods for Anthropological Studies of Food and Nutrition! New Book Discount!

ChrzanVol3

Edited by two former SAFN presidents and containing articles by many SAFN members, the new three volume set “Research Methods for Anthropological Studies of Food and Nutrition” is finally available. Here is an announcement from Berghahn with discount codes for each volume or for the set. 

It is our pleasure to announce the recent publication  of the three volumes of our Research Methods for Anthropological Studies of Food and Nutrition series.

The series includes the following three volumes:

ChrzanResearchFOOD RESEARCH: Nutritional Anthropology and Archaeological Methods, Edited by Janet Chrzan and John Brett

FOOD CULTURE: Anthropology, Linguistics and Food Studies, Edited by Janet Chrzan and John Brett

FOOD HEALTH: Nutrition, Technology, and Public Health, Edited by Janet Chrzan and John Brett

The books are also available in a 3-volume set, which carries a 20% discount:

RESEARCH METHODS FOR ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDIES OF FOOD AND NUTRITION

ChrzanCultureThe Key features of these books:

A comprehensive reference for students and established scholars interested in food and nutrition research.

Focuses on areas such as Nutritional and Biological Anthropology, Archaeology, Socio-Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology, Food Studies and Applied Public Health.

These books would be suitable for courses on food and nutrition research in Nutritional and Biological Anthropology, Archaeology, Socio-Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology, Food Studies and Applied Public Health.

We encourage you to take advantage of a limited time 50% off discount offer available on our website for each title. Just enter the following codes at checkout:

ChrzanHealthCHR876 – Food Research

CHR890 Food Culture

CHR913 Food Health

If you are interested in purchasing all 3 titles in the set (the RRP for which already carries a 20% discount), we are delighted to offer an additional 50% discount if you enter the code CHR975 at checkout  

These are the initial hardback library editions; should you wish to ensure that your library include any of these titles in its collection, please find library recommendation forms for your convenience at the links above.

If you are interested in reviewing  any of these titles for a firm course adoption, please contact us at publicityUS@berghahnbooks.com or publicityUK@berghahnbooks.com for more information on pricing and student purchasing options.

For further details on this title or any other from Berghahn Books, please visit www.berghahnbooks.com.

 

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Panel Proposal, AAA 2017: Interdisciplinary Work in Food and Nutrition

This is an abstract for a panel for the AAA 2017 meetings in DC. Click here to see the CFP for the conference from SAFN and here for more details on the conference. Contact information and deadlines for this proposal are below.

Building the Big Tent: Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Work in Food and Nutrition

Systems thinking and interdisciplinary work are essential to facing challenges in contemporary food environments that are complex and globalized. Issues such as the nutrition transition and sustainable food systems are difficult to comprehend or address using a single lens or discipline. National initiatives such as Healthy People 2020, and international efforts by the World Health Organization urge greater scrutiny of the social determinants of health to target health conditions, like chronic disease, that have a long chain of causality. These are often rooted in historic trends such as colonization, urbanization, and globalization, with deep political and cultural implications. Biomedical or socio-cultural approaches prove inadequate on their own to establishing lasting solutions. Integrative research in nutrition uses systems thinking to connect research about human nutrition and the experience of food across biological, socio-cultural, economic, and political dimensions. Transdisciplinary and integrative research that transcend the politics of siloed academic research and scholarship and build the big tent are critical to crafting effective responses to intractable global health and nutrition issues.

Despite academic recognition of the importance of interdisciplinary work, there is limited scholarship and deliberation about best practices. Even while interdisciplinary programs emerge, there is little discourse on how to include such approaches within courses, across curricula, and in institutions. There is a need for more research and sharing of best practices in interdisciplinary work and integrative research that help us move forward. This session will focus on the process and nature of interdisciplinary work and integrative approaches to research in community food and nutrition. We encourage submissions that address, but are not limited to, any of the following:

  • The role of anthropology in interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and/or inter-professional work in community food and nutrition
  • Models of ecological and systems thinking, including best practices and methods using integrative research approaches
  • Stories of difficulties faced and lessons learned: bridging distances, developing common language and culture
  • Examples of emerging projects and questions posed
  • Reflections on being an interdisciplinary scholar
  • Developing courses and curriculum in higher education settings
  • Using transdisciplinary platforms to inform and influence policies, programs, and interventions

Please submit a title and 250 word abstract by March 28, 2017 to Kimberly E. Johnson (kjohnson4@wcupa.edu ) and Susan Johnston (Sjohnston@wcupa.edu).

 

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