Anthropology | Anthropology of Food
A221 | 29670 | Royce
Above class meets August 31 – November 14, 2009
In this course, we will examine, across space and time, the
significance and meaning of food, its production and consumption, in
human culture and society. Ideas and practices concerning food are
deeply held markers of who we are and how we define ourselves.
The consumption and production of food is common to all peoples. Yet
the ways that our food is produced and consumed, and our choices of
preferred food and its preparation, are distinctive indicators of who
we are, and our relationships with the rest of the world. By
focusing on food, we have a window to the great diversity of world
cultures as well as the similarities that unite all humanity. We will
explore broad themes, including (1) the meanings and importance of
food as part of culture, identity, and social status, (2) how changes
in food production and consumption reflect transformations in society,
technology, and political economy through time, (3) how food
production systems and consumer choices affect the environment and
biodiversity, (4) how cultural concepts of ideal body types relates to
food availability and meanings through time, (5) how people deal with
potential threats to food quality, such Mad Cow disease and
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), (6) how individuals and
cultures are affected by unequal access to food and the means to
produce it, and (7) how food has figured in art, ritual, and literature.
Required Readings include:
Dettwiler, Katherine. 1994. Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West
Africa. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
Pollan, Michael. 2008. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.
The Penguin Press. ISBN 978-1-59420-145-5
Robinson, Jennifer and J.A. Hartenfeld. 2007. The Farmers’ Market
Book: Growing Food, Cultivating Community. Quarry Books, an
imprint of Indiana University Press. ISBN-13: 978-0-253-21016-9.
[this book is also available at the Saturday Farmers’ Market at
Showers Brothers, Saturdays 8-1]
Winne, Mark. 2008. Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the
Land of Plenty. Beacon Press. ISBN (11-10-09-08) 876 54321
Kingsolver, Barbara. 2007. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Harper
Perennial. Paperback. ISBN 978-0-06-085256-6.
Scholsser, Eric. 2002. Fast Food Nation. New York: Harper.