Tag Archives: Anthropology of Food

Want Fame and Glory? Award Deadline Reminders!

SAFN has two glorious awards that are given annually to students engaged in various aspects of food and nutrition related research. The deadline for both is coming up quite soon: July 27, 2018.

Do not miss the opportunity to have your research recognized!

Here are some details, follow the links below for more information on how to apply.

Thomas Marchione Award

Eligibility: all MA, MS or PhD students.

For research exploring “the best and more sustainable approaches to fulfill the right to food” in the words of Dr. Thomas Marchione, whom we honor in presenting this award.

This annual award will be granted to a student whose work addresses food as a human right, including a focus on food justice, food security and access, food sovereignty and other areas where social justice and food intersect. Students should apply, even if they have not fully completed their research, because work-in-progress, and proposed work will also be considered. The winner will be awarded a cash prize ($750) and a one -year membership to the AAA and SAFN.

More information here.

Questions? Contact Dr. Ryan Adams (adamsr@lycoming.edu), Lycoming College

Christine Wilson Award(s)

Eligibility: Undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled (or enrolled in the last academic year).

The Christine Wilson Awards are presented to outstanding undergraduate and graduate student research papers that examine topics within the perspectives in 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 submitting student is 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 an award at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association and receive a year’s membership in SAFN.

More information here.

Questions? Contact Dr. Ryan Adams (adamsr@lycoming.edu), Lycoming College

 The deadline for these awards is July 27, 2018.

 

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Filed under anthropology, awards, Christine Wilson, Thomas Marchione

The Agroecological Prospect, Cheese Curds and Radishes

David Beriss

Last week I attended the joint annual meeting of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society. The conference was in Madison, Wisconsin and the AFHVS folks were in charge, which probably accounts for the very agriculturally-focused theme: “The Agroecological Prospect: The Politics of Integrating Values, Food, and Farming.” This is always a great conference, well worth attending. The University of Wisconsin campus is lovely and historic. We were there at the same time as a conference/reunion focusing on Madison in the 60s, which meant that there was a constant buzz of nostalgic discussions of radical politics and counter-cultural activities in the air.

This is a small conference. I think there were around 500 people participating this year. It is also very open to students. There are a lot of graduate students who present research and even some undergraduates, along with faculty, professional researchers, activists, people from government agencies, and nonprofits. People are generally quite approachable, and it is easy to meet scholars and make new connections. This is probably helped by the wonderful snacks provided between sessions (hey, it is a food conference), which in Madison included some very crunchy radishes.Radishes Madison Farmers Market

We had a nice contingent of SAFN members at the conference. SAFN sponsored several sessions (at least four, I think), including a session on food activism in higher education, another on restaurants and social movements, a roundtable discussion with representatives from funding organizations, and another on the relationship between food studies programs and local communities (many thanks to Amanda Green and the SAFN program committee for organizing all of this). There were many anthropologists on the program outside our sessions as well. Rachel Black and I organized a little gathering of SAFN members (I apologize for the confusion regarding the location), which included a little wine (as an aside, it is amusing to go shopping for wine with a wine scholar, especially in a store that markets primarily to college students) and nice conversation and ended in a beer and bratwurst establishment that featured mediocre brats, but also lovely little triangles of deep fried macaroni and cheese. Highbrow stuff, you betcha.

A lot of conferences have a sort of shadow conference happening on social media and the AFHVS/ASFS conference is especially intense in this regard. Emily Contois, of the University of Tulsa, led this effort and she has provided a sort of round up of the live tweeting from many sessions here. Even though I contribute to this in a modest way, I am still always surprised when people outside the conference (people in the world of food writing, for instance, who might have been mentioned in a presentation) see the tweets and respond in real time. This is both very cool and somewhat vertigo-inducing, as you realize that the conversations you are having are echoing around the planet in real time.

The conference also usually features a day of field trips to food and agriculture-related organizations prior to the beginning of the main conference. This year there were several, including a visit to the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society, a field trip to two social justice organizations that are linked to food and agriculture (the Badger Rock School and the Farley Center), a trip to Milwaukee to visit a variety of food-related activist organizations, a sustainable meal hackathon, and much more. I took a tour of the campus of Epic Systems, a company located outside of Madison that specializes in health-care software. The company’s campus is built with an eye toward sustainability, especially through the production of food for their employees. The site is indeed quite remarkable.

Rhubarb Madison Farmers MarketMadison is, by the way, a lovely city. If you happen to visit, be sure to stroll around the capital on a Saturday morning to see the Dane County Farmers Market and get some cheese curds (or actual cheese) or any of the great produce. Strawberries, rhubarb, and, of course, radishes were especially abundant while we were there. Such good radishes.

Next year’s conference will be in Anchorage, Alaska, June 26-29, 2019. Start making your plans now.

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Filed under AFHVS, anthropology, ASFS, Food Studies

What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, May 31, 2018

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.

It is summer, so we are going to begin with something light, at least in spirit, if not in substance. Boston Cream pie, it seems, is under attack. And it really isn’t pie anyhow. Alert SAFN member (and frequent FoodAnthropology contributor) Ellen Messer sent us this story of scandal, outrage, and culinary history, which is by Kara Baskin, writing in the Boston Globe.

On a related pie/cake note, you should read this wonderful piece from the Oxford American by SAFN’s very own student representative, Kelly Alexander. It is the story of half a cake, includes Rick Bragg and Pat Conroy, southern manners, and Jewish wit. And, Kelly, pick up the phone. We want to know.

We eat red beans here in New Orleans, as everyone knows, but sometimes we also eat white beans and black beans. There are a lot more beans out there, as this great article by Burkhard Bilger, writing for The New Yorker, indicates. The focus is on Rancho Gordo, a company that searches out and distributes a huge range of bean varieties, mostly from Mexico. Questions of cultural appropriation, fair trade, and even implications of anthropology are raised. Good read.

While the Rancho Gordo folks source beans from very specific places in Mexico, your local baker in the U.S. is unlikely to be able to source wheat from particular farms. The desire for locally-sourced grain hits something of a wall in the enormous sea of commodity wheat, as Amy Halloran explains in this article from The New Food Economy. This is a fascinating example of the economics of mass grain production versus the growing desire for local products.

In contrast to the problems faced by bakers who want local wheat, public school systems have not been especially picky about where they source their ingredients for school lunches. In this article, from The Nation, Anna Lappé and Jose Oliva argue that they should. They suggest that school lunch makers should attend to more than the bottom line and should make an effort to source ingredients in ways that “promotes public health, community well-being, animal welfare, social justice, and environmental protection.” Citing the example of the Good Food Purchasing Program, developed in Los Angeles, but now used in other cities as well, they show how this approach can achieve their goals. Curiously, and in contrast to the piece above about commodity wheat, they cite a claim that over 80% of the bread products used in LA schools now come from “California-grown, sustainably produced wheat.” Want to chase that number down? Visit this site.

Circling back to globalization, in this article from Civil Eats, Stephanie Strom writes about new processes for extending the life of foods that must be transported long distances. Beginning with cassava, which can be used to make gluten-free tortillas, she focuses on the development of “an all-natural, virtually invisible coating” from Apeel Sciences that can preserve produce. The idea is to help small farmers in a variety of countries get access to foreign markets.

The famous Balti cooking of Birmingham may be vanishing. The reasons range from generational shifts among the owners (the children of Pakistani immigrants do not necessarily want restaurant careers), to changing tastes among British diners, and more. Daniel Stephen Homer and Natalie Grover explore these issues in this article, from Atlas Obscura.

Everything that happens in society seems to happen in restaurants. This is especially true of the growing opioid addiction crisis. In this article from Nation’s Restaurant News, Gloria Dawson explores the ways restaurants are choosing to address the issue. Some have taken to keeping naloxone shots on hand for anyone who needs it. Others are training their staff to deal with overdoses and providing resources for those with addiction issues. The article points out that this is both a staff and customer issue.

Co-operative organization of workplaces has long been an alternative to the usual way businesses are owned and managed. Given all the social issues confronted by restaurants, could co-operative ownership and management help? In this article from Eater, Brenna Houck explores the question. There are several intriguing examples, including bakeries, coffeeshops, and breweries, and mention of useful organizations, like the Democracy at Work Institute.

Apparently everyone in America is on a special diet. Paleo, Keto, Whole 30, not all of which we have heard of here at FoodAnthropology. In this article from the Washington Post, Sophie Egan looks at why this is. Ironically, it seems that a lot of people are following fad diets because they believe that their bodies are unique. Also, people do not trust what they read in newspapers about nutrition, so they read articles about fad diets (in newspapers) and follow them. Yes, this is why we need social science.

We started this with something light and that is the way we will finish. In this lovely short piece by the New York Times’ Samin Nosrat, she describes leaving her mother’s Iranian cooking behind in order to learn all about Italian pasta, only to eventually cook her way back home by bringing the two culinary cultures together. You will enjoy reading this.

 

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, April 23, 2018

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.

Today’s posting is a day late for Earth Day, which was yesterday, but we are going to get in on the celebrations (probably not the right word) anyhow. First, in case you did not see it, very famous anthropologist Jane Goodall was featured in the Earth Day Google Doodle, proving yet again just how important anthropology is. Here is some food advice from the earnest folks over at Food Tank. The overall message from both Food Tank and my Twitter feed seems to suggest that we are all eating too much, wasting too much, and using too much plastic. Which sounds about right. Definitely not a “celebration,” but hopefully not a commemoration either. Want more information? Visit the web site of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Great pictures too.

With the demise some time ago of Lucky Peach, you might be tempted to declare that the age of the really innovative food magazine is dead. But some folks are not having it, or so says Tejal Rao, in this article from the New York Times. From Dill (“a quarterly publication that honors the foodways of Asia and celebrates those who make a living sustaining the culinary traditions of this vast and diverse continent’) to Mouthfeel (“food from a Gay point of view”), and Whetstone (“a digital and print magazine on food origins and culture”), along with many (many!) others, this article proves that food media is still a lively genre.

There is also some serious and interesting food anthropology out there that you should be reading. We just ran across two excellent articles in Human Organization. The first, by David Griffith, focuses on individual fishery quota programs and policies that bring a kind of neoliberal perspective to Gulf of Mexico fisheries. The second, by Guang Tian, Jianhua Zhao, Laya Liu, Shulong Xie, and Yu Liu looks at the management of food brands in China in the post-socialist economy. Here are the full citations: David Griffith (2018) Enforced Economics: Individual Fishery Quota Programs and the Privileging of Economic Science in the Gulf of Mexico Grouper-Tilefish Fishery. Human Organization: Spring 2018, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 42-51 and Guang Tian, Jianhua Zhao, Laya Liu, Shulong Xie, and Yu Liu (2018) Old Names Meet the New Market: An Ethnographic Study of Classic Brands in the Foodservice Industry in Shantou, China. Human Organization: Spring 2018, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 52-63.

The oyster industry in the Gulf Coast region has suffered in recent years, for a variety of reasons. This remarkable article by Laura Reiley, writing in the Tampa Bay Times, documents the history of the oyster economy and the struggles of oystering families around Apalachicola, Florida. The folks at the Southern Foodways Alliance called our attention to this article in a recent blog entry, which includes additional resources that you may find useful on this topic.

There is controversy among the Jews of Italy. According to Simone Somekh, publishing in Tablet, the classic Jewish Italian dish carciofi alla giudia (apparently a deep fried artichoke) has been found to be treif (not kosher) by Israeli rabbinic authorities. There is a recipe and some interesting history of the dish in Joan Nathan’s recent book “King Solomon’s Table,” if you want to make it. The conflict in Italy is really about who has authority to define Jewish culture and has resonance far beyond food.

Homaro Cantu was the famous chef behind the Chicago restaurant Moto. He was one of the leaders of the molecular gastronomy movement. He was also, it turns out, an idealist that wanted to use his culinary inventions to save the world. Read this fascinating article about his life by Kieran Morris, from the Guardian. That cigar you see in the photo at the top? Not really a cigar. Also, you may want to listen to the associated podcast.

You need more food podcasts. Seriously. Don’t we all? The Oxford Symposium folks have put together a series of podcasts based on their annual program. Food historian Laura Shapiro leads off the series with a great story about the Pillsbury Bake Off, gender, “contest cooking,” and Magic Marshmallow Crescent Puffs. I suspect that this is what the Pillsbury Doughboy would taste like. Upcoming episodes promise tales of offal, colonialism, food and sound, liver, and barbecue. Listen!

The semester is coming to end, right? So you need something fun to read, but food-related. Here are some recommended food memoirs briefly reviewed by Daniela Galarza and her colleagues at Eater. I think the book on César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier looks like something I will want to read (“Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class,” by Luke Barr), but anything by Dave Eggers is likely to be interesting (“The Monk of Mokha”) and a new biography of Edna Lewis, by Sara B. Franklin, promises good reading as well (“Edna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original”). There is quite a bit more, so this will keep you busy and out of trouble for days.

For the sheer pleasure of very nice food writing, read this brief homage to dumplings from Eastern Europe. Writing in The New Yorker, Olia Hercules describes making and eating a wide range of delicious sounding dumplings from across Eastern Europe and Central Asia. You will either want to find them or learn to make them, or both. We all need more dumplings.

On a very light note, I cannot resist calling attention to a recent episode of The Simpsons, in which they visit and pay homage to New Orleans cuisine. I have personally consumed a disturbing number of the items on the list, but it has taken me years to do that. Homer does it rather more quickly (he has a big appetite, even for a cartoon). People in New Orleans are pleased, you may enjoy the show as well. Here is the relevant food clip. All the restaurants and foods really exist (although the perceptive writer Judy Walker, at the Times-Picayune, has noted that the foods are most notably available at JazzFest, rather than at the restaurants…which, the hungry may note, starts soon).

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Filed under anthropology, anthropology of food, Food Studies

AAA CFP: Time and Power in Agrarian Environments

CFP: AAA 2018

American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, November 14-18, 2018

San Jose, California

Organizers:

Natalia Gutkowski (Harvard University) and Ashawari Chaudhuri (MIT)

Time and Power in Agrarian Environments

Time has emerged as a locus of critical theoretical inquiry in anthropology over the past three decades. Nancy Munn’s influential essay “The Cultural Anthropology of Time” published in 1992 not only circumscribed the production of time as opposed to time as an already established constant, but also opened the floodgates of thinking about time and temporality as seats of power. This panel explores the imbrications and juxtapositions of time in/with agrarian environments. While producing and managing agrarian environments have often been tied with control of spatial and human resources (land, water, labor), in the era of growing social-environmental precarity, agrarian environments are becoming a matter of temporal control as well.  Recent scholarship reflects on the time of uncertainty, anticipation and preparedness that are bound with agro-environmental politics and power in cases such as GMOs, climate modeling, time techniques in land grabs or the state of finitude of resources and species extinction. Horizons of future are, however, one way of formulating relations between time, agriculture, and the environment. Papers can be about the following: How time is read and told among communities of practice, tools of time-reckoning and what remains and what gets submerged in these tellings, seasonality and the constant techno-scientific attempt to push its limits, and rhythm of the market and the state in understanding the past and future of agriculture and environment.

Finally, the panel will explore the multiple uses of time as a technique of power and social control in agrarian environments. We ask, how can we better understand political processes and power relations in the agrarian environments when time is added to our analysis? How does it change a social dynamic when we understand the different temporal imaginaries that various actors hold? What, if anything, can be learned anew about agrarian environments through a focus on their temporalities? 

Please send abstracts (250 words max) to both Natalia Gutkowski (ngutkowski@fas.harvard.edu) and Ashawari Chaudhuri (ashawari@mit.edu) by the end of the day on Tuesday, April 3. Please include your name, affiliation, title of paper, and email.

We will notify authors by Sunday, April 8. Session participants must be registered AAA members and registered for the meeting by April 16.

Dr. Natalia Gutkowski, PhD | Environmental Anthropology

Academy scholar| Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies| Harvard University

ngutkowski@fas.harvard.edu

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Filed under AAA 2018 San Jose, agriculture, anthropology, CFP

News of the New Year at SAFN

David Beriss
President, Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition

Happy New Year!

We have news of changes here at FoodAnthropology and, more broadly, at the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition. First, Rachel Black, having completed her extended term as our glorious leader, has now joined the ranks of our many illustrious past presidents. We are all grateful for her amazingly productive work. And I am sure she will continue to play a significant role in shaping this organization and the anthropology of food and nutrition in general.

At the last meeting of the American Anthropological Association I officially became the new president of SAFN. Hopefully I can live up to the standards set by my predecessors. I have only just begun to learn the secret codes, handshakes, and mysterious workings of the AAA itself. I keep hoping that an image of Sidney Mintz will appear in the sugar on a beignet and point the way forward, but that has not yet happened. I suspect that successful leadership of SAFN will mostly involve finding ways to help other people pursue whatever brilliant ideas they have for the organization. And, as it happens, there are already people stepping up with great ideas to pursue.

In coming weeks, I will post updates about some of those ideas and activities here. One of the first and most important ones has to do with the blog itself. Amy Trubek and Abigail Adams are taking over as co-editors of FoodAnthropology. They already have a number of really great ideas for new themes for posting here. You will continue to read many of the occasional postings (like our reading digest, “What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now”) and series that have proven popular over time. I am sure that Amy and Abigail will bring in new writers and themes in coming weeks that will make the blog more dynamic and exciting. If you have ideas, reach out to them at atrubek@uvm.edu and Adams@ccsu.edu.

Unlike some of the bigger sections of the AAA, SAFN does not have its own conference. What we do have, however, is the ability to participate in one of the most exciting interdisciplinary annual food studies conferences anywhere. The joint annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the Agriculture Food and Human Values Society occurs every June and showcases a lot of the best and most interesting research in food across many disciplines (we posted the CFP on the blog a few weeks ago, here). It is a terrific opportunity to network with people and there is usually a significant SAFN presence. This year’s conference will be in Madison, Wisconsin, from June 13-16. We would like to organize several SAFN panels there. The overall conference theme is “The Agroecological Prospect: The Politics of Integrating Values, Food, and Farming,” and, of course, panels and papers on other topics are welcome. Let’s use the blog and the SAFN listserv to organize panels starting now. Got ideas? Let us know or post a call on the listserv to recruit others. The deadline for submissions is February 15, so we must get organized quickly! (You must be a SAFN member to use the listserv. Not a member? We would love to have you among us! See the top of the blog for a link to how to become one.)

Last year we created an elected position for a student representative on the SAFN Executive Board. We are now officially seeking nominations for that job! Our current appointed student representative, by the way, is Kelly Alexander, whose work you can find all over this blog. If you are interested in running, please contact David Sutton, who is our nominations chair.

I will post further updates here soon, as will the many other contributors to this blog. You should reach out to Amy and Abigail with ideas for ways you can participate in the blog as well. This has proven to be a wonderful resource for getting information out to the world on the work of anthropologists in food. When you post here, a lot of people will read what you write, including many people outside the world of universities. Use that power to get your work read! This is an exciting time to be working on food and nutrition. Let’s get the stories of our research and of the people we work with out there!

 

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Filed under AAA, AFHVS, anthropology, ASFS, SAFN

Last Update, Before We Plunge In!

One last program update before heading up to DC. I recently received notification from alert readers about the following panels, which are food-related and interesting. One of them, I note with some embarrassment, is in fact a roundtable that I am a participant in. Don’t know how I failed to note that earlier, but now that is fixed. Check out earlier postings for other SAFN panels, papers, posters, and other important sessions. For further updates, check out the conference program on the AAA web site or program app.

Remember, SAFN needs you! Come to the business meeting, the reception, and all of our panels!

Finally, many of us will be using social media to post updates and comments about events at the conference. Follow the hashtag #AAA2017 to keep up. Go see these panels, participate in the discussions, have a great conference!

Wednesday, November 29

Session: (2-0345) Food in the Moral Orders of Contemporary China.

Mikkel Bunkenborg, Anders Sybrandt Hansen, Ingrid Fihl Simonsen, Mikkel Bunkenborg, Ingrid Fihl Simonsen, Annie Sheng, Jamie Coates, Erika J. Kuever, Ellen Oxfeld.

Abstract: Eating has become an anxious business in China. A seemingly endless series of scandals from milk laced with melamine to recycled gutter oil and rat meat camouflaged as mutton has caused alarm about food safety, and beneath these periodic scares is a constant suspicion that producers are using pesticides, hormones, and additives in ways that make their products unfit for human consumption. The problems persist despite increased governmental efforts to regulate food production and many have come to see the production and marketing of unsafe food as part of a more pervasive moral crisis that has haunted China in recent decades of rapid economic growth.

Distrustful of the agricultural products they consume, Chinese citizens develop new strategies for evaluating and sourcing foodstuffs ranging from online sharing of consumer reviews and reliance on imported foodstuffs to starting up food production in urban gardens and establishing relations to particular known farms that promise to deliver healthy and organic food. In the case of significant state units, specially procured foods sourced from outside the market sphere has a long tradition. Originally intended as a safeguard in case of famine, this practice continues today and food procured this way is the envy of many as its production is believed to be more strictly controlled, and the products consequently safer and healthier. While farmers are in a better position to produce their own food and thus retain some control over what they eat, they are increasingly integrated in a highly competitive market economy where farmers produce specialized cash crops – sometimes by means the farmers themselves find dubious – and rely on commoditized foodstuffs for consumption. Both ruralites and urbanites thus face the same predicament of procuring safe food in a market that is largely perceived as amoral.

This panel aims to address the problem of unsafe food from an ethnographic perspective by exploring how social relations and moral obligations are mediated by food and how people verbalize and act upon concerns with unsafe food in both urban and rural settings. From the feeding of infants and the feasting of guests to anonymous transactions with strangers, food is both indicative and constitutive of a variety of social relations. How do particular forms of sharing foods map moral communities, and how do such practices fare in the current atmosphere of consumer distrust? What do consumer decisions and notions of danger tell us about moral imaginaries of society, rural-urban-, inter-ethnic, and international orders? How is the reach of moral obligation negotiated in food production? What forms of community and social trust are developing on each side and across the rural-urban divide in new production and consumption practices? This panel calls for contributions that follow particular moral economies of food to their edges and thus provide a nuanced understanding of the imbrications of morality, trust and food in contemporary China.

Friday, December 1

Session: (4-0210) Food and drink: past, present, and future (Part I). Guy Duke, Guido Pezzarossi, Katherine Chiou, Kathryn Sampeck, Frederick Smith, Justin Reamer, Maria Bruno, Clare Sammells.

Session: (4-0480) Food and drink: past, present, and future (Part II).  Guido Pezzarossi, Guy Duke, Shanti Morell-Hart, J Ryan Kennedy, Laura Ng, David Cranford, Ann Laffey, Rosemary Joyce.

The food and drink we consume have always been integral links between human social phenomena, health and well-being, as well as the physical environment. Our methods of procurement and production, practices of preparation and consumption, and modes of discard and disposal all are deeply intertwined with everything from ontologies to politics, socioeconomics to ecology, and more. Archaeologists and cultural anthropologists have addressed these connections, often with particular emphasis on a general topic within the time periods and geographical settings of their study. Rarely, however, has the study of food and drink attempted to bridge past practices directly to current-day topics. Multiple potential approaches to making this linkage are available to us, each with unique but complementary perspectives. For instance, working from a longue dureé approach to foodways opens up new lines of inquiry that can radically contextualize the present in the past, illuminating local/ global knowledges and practices around food with longer and shorter histories and the particular assemblage(s) of humans and nonhumans that collaborate in their emergence and longevity.

Part I of this session will focus on how food and drink, and the heterogenous networks of practices, places, people and things that they gather, allow for analyses to inform on how past food related practices helped shape broader social and material contours of life in the present—both food and non-food related—at a variety of scales. Sidney Mintz’s study of sugar, and the multi-sited impacts on labor relations, production practices, technology, consumption and bodies–past and present–provides a model for thinking through the broader consequences and enduring legacies of past foodways.

In Part II of this session, presenters explore how such an approach also makes possible comparative analyses of contexts, processes and their effects that have been segregated in our analyses, due in large part to notions of modernity’s exceptionalism. A comparative approach to analyzing spatiotemporally distinct histories and assemblages, that are nevertheless generative of similar effects, provides a framework for bridging temporal/epochal ruptures between archaeology and cultural anthropology. Putting foodways in disparate pasts/presents that share similar topographies of power, process and experience into conversation, provides new perspectives on the seeming inevitability and permanence of present foodscapes and their entanglements.

Together, these sessions explore the multiple ways in which the patterns of food production, acquisition, preparation, distribution, consumption, and disposal in the ethnographic, archival, and archaeological past can not only have a profound effect on our understanding of how our current world came to be the way it is, but also guide us towards potential alternate futures.

Saturday, December 2

Roundtable Session: (5-0935) Food Talk Matters: How Health, Wealth, and Security Are Semiotically Produced, Consumed and Unequally Distributed. Kathleen Riley, Michael Silverstein, Robert Jarvenpa, Donna Patrick, Susan Blum, David Beriss, Amy Paugh, Christine Jourdan, Jillian Cavanaugh, Alexandra Jaffe, Martha Karrebaek.

Abstract: Food and words are produced, consumed, processed, and exchanged in homes, schools, gardens, coffee shops, farmers markets, movie sets, food shelves and refugee camps, to name only a few of the most familiar settings. Both are constrained by power-laced aesthetic systems. Both are enlisted by agents to semiotically transform political economic systems. Thus, the ethnographic and semiotic analysis of foodtalk (communication that happens through, about, around, and metaphorically as food) matters, both materially and symbolically, in a world where humans use foodways to both instantiate and alleviate social injustice and use discourse to both nourish and poison.

This roundtable brings together scholars from linguistic anthropology and food anthropology to explore the many cross-cutting ways in which food and language are implicated and interpolated in a range of political-economic issues from global discourses of food justice to dinnertime engagement in table talk. These include: the socialization of age and gender norms at home (Ochs, Paugh) and the acquisition of neoliberal ideologies about ethnicity and class at school (Karrebæk, Riley); gendered exchanges on the hunting trail (Jarvenpa) and the internecine rivalries of French village festivals (Jourdan); the textual production and labeling of “authentic” sausage (Cavanaugh) and the mediatization of food safety panics (Jourdan); the classing of wine (Silverstein) and the branding of soda (Manning); the representation of fat (Meneley) and the national significance of fried rat (Wilk;, the preparation of meals out of endangered species (Patrick) and interspecies semiosis in slaughter houses (Garrett); the circulation of gender and ethnicity in public and private kitchens (Abarca, Williams-Forson) and the racialized gentrification of the cultural food economy in urban America (Beriss); the production of taste for ‘local’ and ‘authentic’ (Riley, Cavanaugh, Blum) and the popular consumption of ‘language gap’ rhetoric (Blum, Riley).

In other words, food talk value is produced, consumed, and circulated, both economically and symbolically, with the qualia at stake including health and taste, climate change and interspecies cruelty, social justice and identity politics. Foodways are semiotically read as a form of structured communication (Barthes, Levi-Strauss, Douglas…); communication about foodways include not only referential but also iconic (synaesthetic) signs of food (Parasecoli, Belasco, Frye and Bruner…); communication around food (i.e., in its presence) not only references but also indexes the food, reproducing and transforming old understandings of food values (Schieffelin, Counihan, Dossa, etc.); finally, communication also operates as metaphorical and instrumental forms of sustenance — healthy or not (Cramer et al). Thus, ideologies about food and language are both reflected in and forged by discursive food exchanges, prompting “acts of resistance” to systems of miscommunication and efforts to renovate ailing food systems. In this session, we will sketch out some of the areas that have yet to be explored, some of the methods with which to take this project on, some of the connections that may be made, and some of the steps that could be taken.

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Filed under AAA 2017 Washington DC, anthropology, anthropology of food, archaeology