Human beings need food and liquid to survive. Both are essential and at the same time scarce, at least at times. In every society there are restrictions regarding eating and drinking, some of which are temporal, seasonal, or with reference to age, gender, status or context. From a cultural point of view, food is always connected with ideas and values. A meal can be read as a syntagma and each course refers to a semantic field. Who was the cook, who served the meal and who sat at the table are all factors that matter. Eating and drinking indicate social differences and create contexts. There is a difference between whether I meet a person for a lunch at noon or for a dinner after 8 p.m., if the appointment is for a meal or for a drink, whether we drink Champagne or a Bourbon. The seminar will look into the cultural construction of food and drinks from an anthropological perspective and includes case studies from around the world. In addition we shall look at our own society from a point of view which is transculturally informed.
The seminar includes the following themes: theory of symbols and of cultural boundaries. Food as a symbolic marker of cultural identity. Food in rituals, eating with gods. Food restrictions in world religions. Food and sexuality. Food and gender. Food movements. Food and diaspora, food as collective memory. Commensality as a social blueprint. Constructive drinking. World politics with food. Food and drinking as models of and models for society.
Seminar organization: every week each student will read one text from a reader to prepare for the next session. Each student has to fulfill three tasks once in the semester: (1) write the minutes of a single session, (2) read an additional text for a specific theme and make a 10-minute presentation in the classroom, (3) write a 12–15-page paper on a chosen topic. In the second half of the seminar the students will team up in small groups (2–4 people), gather material on symbolically loaded food items or socially dense eating or drinking contexts and prepare a Power Point presentation for one of the final sessions.
Reading: Beardsworth and Keil, ‘Chap. 1: Introduction’, pp. 1–12
Sociology of Food and Eating
Reading: Beardsworth and Keil, ‘Chap. 3: Sociological Perspectives’, pp. 47–72
Reading: Douglas, ‘Chap. 1: A distinctive anthropological perspective’, pp. 3–15
Reading: Buckser, ‘Keeping Kosher: Eating and Social Identity among the Jews of Denmark’, pp. 191–209
Food, Narratives, and Memories
Reading: Mintz, ‘Chap. 1: Introduction’, pp. 1–16
Food and Power
Reading: Mintz, ‘Chap. 2: Food and Its Relationship to the Concept of Power’, pp. 17–31
Food and Semantics
Reading: Barthes, ‘Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption’, in Counihan and Van Esterik (eds.), pp. 20–27 Structural Views
Reading: Lévi-Strauss, ‘Chap. 3: The Culinary Triangle’, in Counihan and Van Esterik (eds.), pp. 28–35
The Senses and Taste
Reading: Brillat-Savarin, ‘Chap. 1: On Taste’, pp. 15–23; Bartoshuk, Linda M., ‘Chap. 2: Chemical Senses’, pp. 25–33; both in Korsmeyer (ed.)
Diaspora, Memory and Revitalization
Reading: Sutton, ‘Whole Foods’, pp. 120–30
Sentiments of Belonging
Reading: Scholliers, ‘Chap. 1: Meals, Food Narratives, and Sentiments of Belonging in Past and Present’, in Scholliers (ed.), pp. 3–22
Reading: Martin, ‘Chap. 7: Old People, Alcohol and Identity in Europe, 1300–1700’, in Scholliers (ed.), pp. 119–37
Asia And Europe
Reading: Goody, ‘Chap. 5: The High and the Low. Culinary Culture in Asia and Europe’, in Korsmeyer (ed.) 2005, pp. 57–71
A Case Study – Kava in Tonga
Reading: Bott, ‘Chap. 10: The Kava ceremonial as a dream structure’, in Douglas (ed.), pp. 182–204
Materialistic View on Food
Reading: Harris, ‘Chap. 1: Good to think or good to eat’, pp. 13–46
Cows in India
Reading: Harris, ‘Chap. 3: The Riddle of the Sacred Cow’, pp. 47–66
Reading: Kunow, ‘Eating Indian(s). Food, Representation, and the Indian Diaspora in the United States’, in Döring, Heide and Mühleisen (eds.), pp. 151–75
Absence and Visibility of Food
Reading: Brosch, ‘Visual Victual. Iconographies of Food and Dining in Nineteenth-Century England’, pp. 209–35
Gender and Food
Reading: Bordo, ‘Chap. 1: Hunger as Ideology’, in Scapp and Seitz (eds.), pp. 11–35 Food in Thailand
Reading: Esterik, ‘Feeding their Faith’, pp. 197–215
Food in Italy
Reading: Counihan, ‘Chap. 3: Food, Power and Female Identity in Contemporary Florence’, in Counihan, 1999, pp. 43–60
Food in India
Reading: Parry, ‘The Symbolism of Food and Eating in North Indian Mortuary Rites’, pp. 612–30
Reading: Ashley et al., ‘Chap. 11: Television Chefs’, in Ashley et al (eds.), pp. 171–185
Reading: Finkelstein, ‘Chap. 13: Dining Out: The Hyperreality of Appetite’, in Scapp and Seitz, (eds.), 1998, pp. 201–215
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Buckser, Andrew (1999), ‘Keeping Kosher: Eating and Social Identity among the Jews of Denmark’, Ethnology 38(3):191–209
Counihan, Carole and Van Esterik, Penny (1997), ‘Food and Culture – A Reader.’ New York (Routledge).
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Esterik, P. van (1986), ‘Feeding their Faith: Recipe Knowledge among Thai Buddhist Women.’ Food and Foodways, 1: 197–215.
Harris, Marvin (1986), ‘Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture.’ London (Allen & Unwin).
Korsmeyer, Carolyn, ed. (2005), ‘The Taste Culture Reader: Experiencing Food and Drink.’ Oxford (Berg).
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Mintz, Sidney W. (1996), ‘Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom. Excursions into Eating, Culture, and the Past.’ Boston, Mass (Beacon Press).
Parry, J. (1985), ‘Death and Digestion: The symbolism of food and eating in north Indian mortuary rituals.’ MAN, 20. pp. 612–30.
Scapp, Ron, and Seitz, Brian (eds.) (1998), ‘Eating Culture.’ Albany (State University of New York Press).
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Scott, Susie (2009), ‘Making Sense of Everyday Life.’ Cambridge (Polity Press).
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