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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn this course, we will trace the circulation of food across various contexts, from the migrations of undocumented farm workers to the crafting of artisanal raw-milk cheese. Along the way, we will explore three key concepts. The first is practice: How do people consume and produce food, and how do these acts reflect and remake communities and identity? The second is political economy: how do people manage the production and distribution of food as they also construct systems of inequality? The third is health: how is it that in a time of food plenty, people still go hungry? What are the links between food and medicine, health, and disease? We will look for answers to these and other questions through readings about the historical and contemporary social lives of sugar, tea, coffee, fruit, cheese, and junk food. The readings situate questions of practice, place, and political economy within anthropological theories of identity, colonialism and kinship, but they engage also broader questions about labour, globalisation, and hunger.
Course description Weekly topics:

Week 1 Introduction
Week 2 Food/Kinship/Nation
Week 3 Food/Gender/Desire
Week 4 Political Economy: Commodities/Empire/Globalisation
Week 5 Food/Poverty/Race
Week 6 Ethical Eating? Fair Trade/Organic/Local
Week 7 Food/Environment/Ocean
Week 8 Microbes, Pollutants and Food Safety
Week 9 Hunger
Week 10 - Sugar
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
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate specialised knowledge of ethnographic analyses of food production, consumption and exchange, and the historical evolution of the anthropology of food within the broader discipline
  2. Critically evaluate the most influential anthropological analyses of food and its role in social and cultural formation: from Levi-Strauss through to the political economists and political ecologists, to emphases on identity and kinship, and medical anthropology.
  3. Creatively apply ethnographic data to build critical analysis of different theoretical approaches to the anthropology of food.
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 organiserDr Rebecca Marsland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3864
Course secretaryMiss Becky Guthrie
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