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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Anthropology

Postgraduate Course: The Anthropology of Food (SCAN11012)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
Summary'Man ist, was man isst' - we are what we eat, says the German proverb. Eating is a basic biological requirement to sustain life, but what we eat and how we eat it is not simply dictated by environment and technology, it is a mark of how we understand ourselves, our place in society, and how we distinguish ourselves from others. This course will draw on a range of anthropological research to explore the culture, economics and politics of food in the modern world. We shall investigate what a focus on food can contribute to the study of ritual, memory, gender, globalization and justice. We shall pay special attention to the political economy of food, exploring what anthropology has contributed to understanding and meeting the challenges of a deeply unjust global food-system, starting with colonialism and now addressing the contemporary period in which governments and planners which must grapple simultaneously with excess and desperation, with 'epidemics' of obesity and ever-rising levels of chronic hunger.
Course description Weekly topics:
(1) being omnivores;
(2) the semiotics of a meal;
(3) farming systems: peasant, colonial and industrial;
(4) the politics of seeds;
(5) commensality: who eats with whom?
(6) food and gender;
(7) food, class and power;
(8) hunger and plenty;
(9) global food chains;
(10) 'you can never be too rich or too thin'
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course the students should have a critical understanding of the historical evolution of the anthropology of food production, consumption and exchange and its shifting location within the broader discipline. They should be familiar with the most influential anthropological analyses of food and its role in social or cultural formation, from Malinowski through Steward, the structuralists, the political economists and political ecologists, to more recent emphases on identity and memory or on global assemblages. Critical analysis and discussion of case studies and theoretical essays will build anthropological skills in evaluating the strengths, weaknesses and applicability of different approaches.
Reading List
Bestor, Theodore C. (2004) Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World, Berkeley, University of California Press.
Counihan, Carole M. (ed) (1999) The Anthropology of Food and Body: Gender, Meaning, and Power, New York, Routledge.
Douglas, Mary (1971) 'Deciphering a meal', in Clifford Geertz (ed), Myth, Symbol and Culture, New York, Norton: 61-81.
Dunn, Elizabeth (2005) 'Standards and person making in East Central Europe', in Aihwa Ong and Stephen Collier (eds), Global Anthropologies: Governmentality, Technology, Ethics, London, Blackwell: 173-193.
Farb, Peter and George Armelagos (1980) Consuming Passions: the Anthropology of Eating, Boston, Houghton Mifflin.
Goody, Jack (1982) Cooking, Cuisine and Class, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Mintz, Sidney (1985) Sweetness and Power: the Place of Sugar in Modern History, Harmondsworth, Penguin.
Ries, Nancy (2009) 'Potato ontology: surviving postsocialism in Russia', Cultural Anthropology 24, 2: 181-212.
Sutton, David e. (2001) Remembrance of Repasts: An Anthropology of Food and Memory, Oxford, Berg.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Francesca Bray
Tel: (0131 6)51 3863
Course secretaryMiss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
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