HUMA1038 Introduction to Ethnography: Food and Culture
Biological science tells us what items in our world are potentially edible, but culture decides what constitutes food. Culture informs us as to whether a specific item is appropriate, appetising, valued, desirable, prohibited, restricted, staple or medicinal. These and other qualities are products of culture not simply the ‘food’ itself. ‘You are what you eat’ illustrates the social dynamics through which identities, relationships, and hierarchies are created, performed and reproduced. This module examines cultural variation in what constitutes food, drink and medicine in contemporary societies and contexts. We will also look into changing patterns of food acquisition from prehistory into the present. In particular we will examine how our cultural definitions, discourses, values and practices concerning food act to build, sustain and nourish us as biological bodies, as individually specific persons, and as participants in specific social, cultural, ethnic, national and transnational groups.
Aims and Objectives
It will introduce you to the discipline of anthropology, including all the sub-disciplines of social/cultural anthropology, bio-anthropology, archaeology and linguistics, and how these fields of study inform our understanding of food. It will furthermore introduce you to Ethnography, the key methodology of Social & Cultural Anthropology, and provide opportunities for you to learn how to apply ethnographic research practices.
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- To develop a critical understanding of what constitutes ‘food’ from a cultural and comparative perspective.
Indicative Topics: Section One: Introduction to food studies. What is food? What is an anthropological approach to food? Food and the body: cultural and bio-anthropological approaches. Food and personhood: how food creates and nourishes persons. The role of food in ethnicity, national cuisines, migration and global brands. Section Two: Food through Time. Why did people move to food production in prehistory? How do we know what people ate in the past and why they might have chosen it? Heritage food. Food security in changing worlds: foraging, farming, free-trade, fairtrade. Section Three: Selected themes Spices, simulants, fasting and altered states Proscription, taboos and cannibalism Sharing, abundance and feasting Food banks; food waste
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching consists of lectures, seminars and workshops. Lectures will deliver an introduction to the week’s topics/themes, key ideas and debates, and relevant literatures. Seminars will be discussion-based and focus on developing a deeper understanding of selected concepts, approaches and issues, by means of engagement with set reading. Workshops will provide opportunities for guided but largely independent learning and practice of ethnographic methods directed to the investigation of food and culture.
|Completion of assessment task||40|
|Practical classes and workshops||12|
|Wider reading or practice||26|
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||24|
|Total study time||150|
Resources & Reading list
Fardon R., O Harris, T.H.J. Marachand, M.Nuttall, C Shore, V. Strong, and R. Wilson (2012). Handbook of Social Anthropology.
Hendry, Joy (1999). An Introduction to Social Anthropology.
Klein J. and J. Watson (2016). The Handbook of Food and Anthropology.
Counihan, C. & P. Van Esterik (2013). Food and culture: a reader.
Van der Veen, Marikje (2003). World Archaeology. Luxury Foods. ,34(3) , pp. 0.
MacClancy, Jeremy (1992). Consuming Culture: why you eat what you eat.
Rathje, William and Cullen Murphy (1992). Rubbish: The archaeology of garbage.
Barker, Graeme (2006). The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory: Why did foragers become farmers?.
|Project (1500 words)||60%|
|Review (1200 words)||40%|
Repeat type: Internal & External