Tag Archives: gender

What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, January 26, 2019

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 a cheery report that argues, as we often do here, that whatever you are doing to improve the planet is probably not enough. Sorry. In this article, from The New Republic, Emily Atkin looks into companies (Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Produce) who send out boxes of damaged produce directly to consumers, as an alternative to the produce being destroyed or left in the field. This seems like a great way to prevent waste in our food system, which is a huge problem. Atkin, drawing on her own research and on analyses from a few food activists, shows that these companies may not actually be helping. This is not a simple story, however, so read it before you drop your subscription to one of these services.

Apparently many citizens of rich countries are worried about getting enough protein. Which seems truly weird, given the amounts of meat people consume, but what do I know? In this article from the Guardian, Bee Wilson writes that “anxiety about protein is one of the things that drives a person to drink a flask of vitamin-padded beige slurry and call it lunch.” Gah! Seriously, however, Wilson’s article explores this situation from a lot of angles, from debates about faddish nutritionism, to the dietary needs of athletes, to people with protein obsessions, and even a strange store called Protein Haus. This could be a really useful article to spark a fad diet discussion in a class!

As something of a corrective to the above fad, the medical journal the Lancet has recently published an article that looks at food systems and healthy diets around the world. They note that “unhealthy diets pose a greater risk to morbidity and mortality than does unsafe sex, and alcohol, drug, and tobacco use combined.” Which is impressive. By the way, this article is a product of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, whose web site you should visit for a lot more interesting content of this sort.

The debate about cultural appropriation and food has been raging for a long time now, on multiple fronts, at least in the U.S. In this intriguing blog posting, food historian Ken Albala raises some questions about the relationship between ancestry and the right to cook particular foods. If you are keeping a list of relevant public debate pieces on this topic, then this is another one to include. The big question, which is not addressed here, is what the debates about food and cultural appropriation are actually about. Probably not food, really.

But wait, there is more. Writing in Eater, Sara Kay draws on her studies of thousands of Yelp reviews to argue that those who comment on the authenticity of restaurants are often writing in support of white supremacy. She writes that “the word ‘authentic’ in food reviews supports white supremacism, and Yelp reviews prove it.” She is pointing to a wide range of expectations that focus mostly on restaurants associated with immigrants or with specific ethnicities (Mexican, Chinese, other Asian cuisines), that build on stereotypes about food and people and that reinforce a kind of casual racism. She is also pointing to a hierarchy of cuisines (with Euro cuisines at the top) that reflects U.S. social structure. This is an important observation and worth making. However, I wonder if the term “white supremacy” is what we should be using to describe this. I admit to having used it myself to describe the massive system that has kept structural racism in place in the U.S. for centuries. But in a moment in our history when the far right—people who explicitly call for and support white supremacy—is resurgent, perhaps we want to be more careful. It is one thing to call attention to and even denounce structural racism (the hierarchy of cuisines) and those who support it (perhaps these Yelp reviewers), it is quite another to associate those reviewers with the people who marched in Charlottesville. Unless you believe that the only ideological positions possible are “woke anti-racist” and “Nazi,” maybe we should use slightly more nuanced language.

Or perhaps invoking white supremacy requires building a more detailed argument. Writing in Civil Eats, Megan Horst looks into the reasons why farmers of color seem dramatically underrepresented in agriculture today. She explores the history of farming and land access in the U.S., discusses policies supporting different kinds of farming, notes the history of slavery and other forms of exploitation, and puts this into the broader context of the challenges faced by farmers today. Horst considers all of the history and policies together to form a kind of actually-existing white supremacy, which seems distinct from the far-right ideologues in the media of late. Perhaps juxtaposing these two uses of the concept would generate an interesting debate.

Returning, briefly, to those Yelp reviews: the stereotypes that associate the foods of certain non-European groups with both cheapness and a problematic “authenticity” have been the object of a lot of criticism recently. In scholarly work, Krishnendu Ray’s writing has contributed significantly to focusing the debate. Diep Tran’s piece on NPR raised the question of cheapness in 2017. And this has had an impact, I think, on the discourse about food. In the Washington Post, food writer Tim Carman has recently announced that he is dropping the title (“the $20 diner”) because it does a disservice to the restaurants he writes about.

Switching topics: Airport food is generally awful. It helps, when traveling (at least in the U.S.) to have low expectations. I don’t know if Tortas Frontera, a chain of restaurants owned by Rick Bayless, located mostly in O’Hare Airport in Chicago, is any good, but the story of the pork they use is itself quite interesting. Writing for Fooditor, Michael Gebert describes the steps that turn pig into sandwich, most of which occur on a farm owned by Greg Gunthorp, in Indiana. This is not only farm-to-table airport food, but also a very inspiring story of challenging the industrial food system. Maybe the story makes the food taste better too. Let us know if you happen to go through O’Hare and try it.

We toss around theories of race, class, and gender in the social sciences and often forget, I think, that non-academics do not think about these things in the same way. Take, for instance, this very odd yet alluring article on Waffle House “rockstar” short order cooks. The author, Theodore Ross, appears to be an experienced, thoughtful, veteran journalist and, also, a white guy (he says so in the article). The article is a meditation, often laced with pop psychology references, about masculinity, race, and class, all while observing and talking about (and somewhat with) Waffle House short order cooks in Atlanta. Ross really does not understand academic discussions of gender, as this quote demonstrates: “Yet men do exist — or they don’t, and masculinity is “socially constructed,” as is more generally thought these days, which is likely true but has no bearing on the embedded concepts about manliness that sway my perceptions — and these ideas about ourselves exist, if not intellectually then emotionally.” Ross may have some insights into the contradictory nature of work in places like Waffle House. Students could have great fun critiquing this piece, I think. Also, if Mr. Ross should read this: yes, the “embedded concepts about manliness” you refer to are socially constructed and that does in fact matter for your analysis. Socially constructed is not the opposite of real. Trust me on this.

Let’s finish this opinionated digest with a drink. If you have been to Louisiana, you may have been astonished by the garish neon slushy drinks available all over Bourbon Street, as well as the drive-through versions of the same that we have elsewhere in the state. My late lamented colleague, historian Michael Mizell-Nelson, wrote a rather amusing history of these drinks, which may have been invented at the Wilmart (that is not a typo) Liquor Store in Ruston, Louisiana, which is closer to Arkansas then to New Orleans. The complete story of this invention, which Mizell-Nelson (a Louisiana native) referred to as an example of “the less well-documented genius of Louisiana” will amuse and delight you, probably more than the drinks themselves. You can read the first part here and the second one here. I recommend drinking something else, maybe a Sazerac, after you are done.

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Filed under agriculture, anthropology, anthropology of food, food history, gender, racism

What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, December 22, 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.

We have not written here (yet) about the movement against sexual misconduct currently sweeping through the restaurant world, along with many other industries. It has been striking, however, to observe how different writers have grappled with the complexities of power (and its abuse) as deployed in the food world. In this piece in the New Yorker, for instance, Helen Rosner takes on the discourses of sensuality, appetite, and gender that have framed the careers of chefs like Mario Batali. Julia Moskin and Kim Severson’s article in the New York Times provide insight into the working of raw power in the restaurant industry, this time in the case of Ken Friedman. This is, of course, not just a New York story, as this earlier piece by Brett Anderson at the Times-Picayune regarding the behavior of New Orleans chef John Besh demonstrates.

Women are not just victims in the restaurant world – they are also accomplished workers, leaders, and owners. This article from Southern Living provides brief vignettes about thirty women in the world of Southern food and their accomplishments. Helen Freund provides a New Orleans-focused analysis of women working in food here. As these women point out, there are a lot of gender related issues that need to be addressed in the industry.

Changing topics dramatically: Pen Vogler provides this article about the idea of “clean eating” in Dickens’ writing and time. Although a seasonal reference to Christmas dinner is included, this is not an article with which to work up an appetite. Consider this, from The Pickwick Paper: “’Weal pie,’ said Mr. Weller, soliloquising, as he arranged the eatables on the grass. ‘Wery good thing is weal pie, when you know the lady as made it, and is quite sure it ain’t kittens; and arter all though, where’s the odds, when they’re so like weal that the wery piemen themselves don’t know the difference?’” Look it up to consider the seasonality of kittens in pie. Ah, England.

More Dickens related material, but also more appetizing: Mayukh Sen makes the case for why “The Muppet Christmas Carol” is one of the best food movies ever made. There is certainly a lot of food in the movie. We will need to see it again to determine if this argument is persuasive.

At this time of the year, many people are compiling best-of lists for all kinds of things. From the Longreads web site, here is a short list of their favorite food writing from 2017. It includes a piece on the local food movement in post-coal Appalachia, an article about chef Angela Dimayuga, who brings together queer theory and restaurant management, a surprising take on Olive Garden, Christianity, Gaugin, and more from Helen Rosner, and more. The painting she refers to, Gaugin’s Christ in the Garden of Olives, seems to have very few breadsticks.

Everything has a history, including the chilled premade sandwich in the United Kingdom. It seems that before the 1980s, these ubiquitous convenience foods, available all over London (and beyond), were not something people there ate. Sam Knight, writing in The Guardian, presents this is amazing story, involving marketing, clever invention, changing eating habits, convenience, and, of course, the famous Earl himself. Sandwich factories, sandwich empires…it is all here.

Food writer and historian Adrian Miller wrote this article about gatekeepers in the world of food writing for NPR. He explains some of the very curious limitations encountered by writers of color in the world of food and proposes a few ways to address them. Miller’s view is complex and provides a useful addition to the ongoing debates about who speaks for different kinds of foods and the communities they may represent.

Fabio Parasecoli has written an additional critique of the world of foodies and food writing in this short piece on HuffPost. Maybe we can call this transnational cosmopolitanism in the service of a localist ideology? Or making the world safe for Brooklyn? There is a lot to think about in this article and it would make for a wonderful discussion starter in your next food studies class.

Restaurants, as we have often noted here, can be a kind of total social phenomenon, where many of the social concerns of society are brought together in one space. This includes the creation of new families in which people, workers, and customers alike, can create deep social bonds. This lovely article from Kara Baskin in the Boston Globe, illustrates the kinds of relations some older customers develop with restaurant workers and owners in Boston.

We have been meaning to call attention to SAFN VP Amy Trubek’s recent book “Making Modern Meals: How Americans Cook Today,” which was published by the University of California Press a few months ago. While you are at it, you might read this blog entry Amy wrote about home cooks for National Cooking day.

A few years old, but new to us: the story of Oedipus, told with vegetables. This is a short film by Jason Wishnow. Spoiler alert, it does not have a happy ending. Tragic. Be careful with potato peelers.

Happy holidays!

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2017 Christine Wilson Award Winners!

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
Sarah Howard

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
Kate Rhodes

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.

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CFP: Feminist Food Studies: Exploring Intersectionality

Yet another call for abstracts that will no doubt be of great interest to readers of FoodAnthropology:

EDITED COLLECTION CALL FOR ABSTRACTS

FEMINIST FOOD STUDIES: EXPLORING INTERSECTIONALITY

What might a feminist, intersectional analysis bring to food studies? Intersectionality (Crenshaw 1989; hooks, 1992) pushes food scholars, activists, students, and community members to situate interconnected social identities such as gender, race/ethnicity, social class, age, body size, able–‐bodiedness, sexual identity and difference as these overlap through discursive power and social structures to shape food practices (Williams–‐Forson, & Wilkerson, 2011; Brady et. al., 2016; Sachs, & Patel–‐Campillo, 2014; Sachs et. al., 2014; Heldke, 2013; Harper, 2010; Williams–‐Forson, 2006; Inness, 2006; Thompson, 1996). Feminist food studies scholars have begun to take up intersectionality as a way of better understanding the cultural, economic, political, social, spiritual, relational, and emotional aspects of food and eating. Cairns & Johnston (2015) remind us that embedded within intersectional analyses, there are multiple femininities constructed through gendered food practices. Julier (2005) suggests that a feminist food studies needs to theorize women’s experiences of the interconnections between food consumption and production practices, particularly as the construction of difference and inequality are centrally located in the convergences of the social relations constructed through these practices (pg. 164). Moreover, others have identified the need to consider how women’s experiences of embodiment and identity overlap with their participation and labour in alternative and agri–‐food systems, through paid work and unpaid caring work or food provisioning, and through their engagement with public health nutrition and representations of food in relation to gender, race, class and the body.

Feminist Food Studies: Exploring Intersectionality aims to pull together current scholarship that engages with intersectionality, as theoretical approach, epistemology, methodology, or method, in the emergent area of feminist food studies. We seek to address questions such as: how might a feminist, intersectional framework enhance, enliven, and advance food studies? How might feminist intersectionality inform the movement for food justice in ways that bring to light the complexities of doing this work locally, nationally, and internationally? What might feminist, intersectional analyses of food systems and food 2 practices, bring to the mainstream food studies table? How do feminist food studies scholars differ in their pedagogical, methodological, and epistemological approaches from traditional or mainstream food studies around the world? What work has already been accomplished by feminist food scholars globally? What areas have yet to be addressed? In what innovative, creative, and radical directions might feminist food studies lead the scholarship of food, eating, and the body in the future?

Feminist Food Studies: Exploring Intersectionality, will feature papers that highlight current empirical research and feminist theorizing using an intersectional lens in the emergent area of feminist food studies. The Edited Collection will be international in scope and thus, we welcome a range of papers that examine food and intersectionality in all its complexity, broadly represented through the thematic areas of the socio–‐cultural, the material and the embodied or corporeal domains (Allen & Sachs, 2007).

Possible areas for submission include:

  • Intersectionality as a methodological approach or as method in food studies
  • Theorizing intersectionality through social identities such as race, ethnicity, gender, social class, age, sexualities, disabilities
  • Feminist Intersectional pedagogies in food studies
  • Femininities / masculinities
  • Embodiment including fat studies, or critical ‘obesity’ studies
  • Health as an embodied social practice
  • Ecofeminist perspectives and critical animal studies
  • Indigenous food systems and relationships
  • Material feminism
  • Food systems
  • Food security and food sovereignty
  • Women and agriculture / farming

Deadline for proposals: February 28, 2017

Deadline for full papers: June 30, 2017

Anticipated Publication: 2018

Please submit abstracts to: feministfoodstudies@gmail.com

References:

Allen, P. & Sachs, C. (2007). Women and Food Chains: The Gendered Politics of Food, International Journal of Sociology and Food, 15(1), pp. 1–‐23. http://www.ijsaf.org/contents/15–‐1/allen/index.html

Brady, J., Gingras, J., & Power E. (2016). Still Hungry: A Feminist Perspective on Food, Foodwork, the Body and Food Studies, in Mustafa Koc, Jennifer Sumner, & Anthony Winson, (eds.), Critical Perspectives in Food Studies, (2nd ed.), pp. 185–‐204, Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

Cairns, K. & Johnston, J. (2015). Food and Femininity, London, New Delhi, New York & Sydney: Bloomsbury Academic Press.

Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics, The University of Chicago Legal Forum, (140), pp. 139–‐167. http://philpapers.org/rec/CREDTI

Julier, A. P. (2005). Hiding Gender and Race in the Discourse of Commercial Food Consumption, in Arlene Voski Avakian & Barbara Haber (Eds.), From Betty Crocker to Feminist Food Studies: Critical Perspectives on Women and Food, pp. 163–‐184. Amherst & Boston: University of Massachusetts Press.

Harper, B. (2010). Social Justice Beliefs and Addiction to Uncompassionate Consumption, in A. Breeze Harper (ed.), Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society, pp. 20–‐41, Brooklyn, New York: Lantern Books.

Heldke, L. (2013). Let’s Cook Thai: Recipes for Colonialism, in Carole Counihan and Penny Van Estrrik (Eds.), Food and Culture: A Reader, (3rd ed.), pp. 394–‐408, New York & London: Routledge.

hooks, B. (1992). Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance, Black Looks, Race and Representation, Boston: South End Press.

Inness, S. A. (2006). Secret Ingredients: Race, Gender & Class at the Dinner Table, New York: Palgrave Macmillon.

Sachs, C., & Patel–‐Campillo, A. (2014). Feminist Food Justice: Crafting a New Vision, Feminist Studies, 40(2), pp. 396–‐410. http://jstor.org/stable/10.15767/feministstudies.40.2.396

Sachs, C., Allen, P., Terman, R. A., Hayden, J. & Hatcher, C. (2014). Front and Back of the House: Social–‐spatial food inequalities in food work, Agriculture & Human Values, 31(1), pp. 3–‐ 17. http://philpapers.org/rec/SACFAB

Thompson, B. (1996). A Hunger So Wide and So Deep: American Women Speak Out on Eating Problems, Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press.

Williams–‐Forson, P. & Wilkerson, A. (2011). Intersectionality and Food Studies, Food, Culture & Society, 14(1), pp. 7–‐28. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/175174411X12810842291119

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Filed under anthropology, CFP, feminism, Food Studies, gender

Food Networks: Gender and Foodways

Call for Papers! Conference! (From the conference web site, which you can find here.)

“Food Networks: Gender and Foodways”

An Interdisciplinary Conference at the University of Notre Dame

Organized by the Gender Studies Program

January 26-29, 2012

This conference seeks to address gender issues as they relate to food.  We welcome papers from all disciplines – Anthropology, Literary Studies, Film Studies, Sociology, Theology, Cultural Studies, Visual Culture, Gender Studies, Food Studies, American Studies, Ethnic Studies, History, Agriculture, and more.  We seek a wide range of papers dealing with food in all its variety and complexity, as it relates to gender, sex, and sexuality.  Possible topics and areas of interest include:

Gender and food figures: the gourmet chef, the housewife, the family, the writer, the food critic, Julia Child, Martha Stewart, Michael Pollan, Mark Bitman, Rachel Ray, Iron Chefs, Top Chefs, etc.

Gendered food spaces:  The kitchen, the grocery store, the dining room, the farmers market, the café, the restaurant, etc.

Gendered representations of food: in literature, in film, in television, in magazines, in ephemera, in metaphor, etc.

Food and Gender/Sex Identities:  queer food, feminist food, masculine food, food and family, food and singles culture, race and gender, national and transnational cultures, ethnic cultures

Gender and: eating, diets, starvation, foodies, localism, sustainability, cookbooks, fat, sexuality, gastro-porn, disgust, shame, pleasure, sensuality, food communities, slow food, raw food, cleansing, Weight Watchers, Whole Foods, fast food, calorie counting, lunch boxes, bento boxes, vegetarianism, veganism, hunger, nostalgia

Proposals should consist of a 200 word abstract of the paper, a list of three keywords, and a brief biographical statement listing your title, the name of your college or university, and your areas of research and writing.  Please indicate technology needs, such as powerpoint or DVD. Proposals are due by 30 June, 2011

Preconstituted panels will not be considered.

Submit proposal electronically here.

Questions can be addressed via email to: Pamela.Wojcik.5@nd.edu with subject header “Food Networks”

posted by David Beriss

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