EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W010)

Food: crisis and creativity

Location Rowan Room 1
Date and Start Time 25 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Marta Rosales (Instituto de Ciências Sociais) email
Monica Janowski (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) email
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Long Abstract

In a wide range of personal and global contexts - ranging from scarcity due to war through environmental disaster to "comfort food" in difficult personal moments - food becomes particularly visible in times and contexts of crisis. Food is a lens through which to frame and understand the ways in which individuals and groups deal with crises. In a context of crisis, food can allow individuals to draw on creative and emotional reserves from the past; it can also generate new ways of moving into the future.

We welcome papers which, through focusing on creative practices in food production and consumption, bring attention to its centrality in critical moments, its potential to express cultural and subjective agency, and its ability to materialize and manage identity and relationships. Using the lens of food, we hope to encourage discussion of the extent of creative agency in critical moments; and of the processes of generating practice based on imaginative thoughts, concepts and musings.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

From the 'Embargo Cake' to the 'Tycoon Cake': food shortages, changes in everyday diet and new recipes in post-1990 Serbia

Author: Ivana Bajic-Hajdukovic (European University Institute, Florence)  email
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Long Abstract

The last decade of the 20th century in Serbia was marked, among other societal phenomena, by tremendous changes in people's everyday diet and the proliferation of new recipes. This change was a direct consequence of massive pauperization of population, caused by the economic crisis and the UN sanctions imposed in the early 1990s. As a result of rapid pauperization and constant shortages of basic food products in the early 1990s, people had to adjust their diets and to make do without most foods they used to consume until 1990s. Even though the socio-political situation has changed since 2000, with the liberalization of the market and opening of the economy to the world, thus ending the food shortages, the abundance of food in supermarkets today is still out of reach for majority of its citizens because of very high prices of food and monopolization on the food market in Serbia.

Wine histories: winemaking in western Poland

Author: Ewa Kopczynska (Jagiellonian University)  email
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Long Abstract

In postmigrant society of western Poland there is a huge social demand for the "story about homeland". After collapse of communist ideologies, and when the memories of prewar dwellers are fading away, the regional tradition needs to be revitalized or, simply written, reinvented. For fifty years after WWII the German identity of the region have been erased and wineries disappeared from the social memories. Throughout last decade wineries came back, and the 'wine identity' of the region is becoming more and more popular. At the same time there are a few social interpretations, "histories" crystallized around wineries and winemaking. These histories are legitimating wine producing and supporting regional identity but also constitute divisions inside the community. The structure and content of each history reflects the position of social agent using it. In that sense the social interpretation of winemaking became the scene of negotiating regional identity and "domesticating" the new homeland.

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State food or status food? Notes on food and imagination policies in Ciudad de la Habana (Cuba)

Author: Giovanna Neri (University of Milano-Bicocca)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper analyses how food, subject of policies, plays an essential role in the organization of cuban society and in the construction of an imagined world. Based on my ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Ciudad de la Habana since 2007, the paper shows how Cubans seem to prefer "Status food"- bought in US dollars and above the potential incoming - to "State food"- given by the State through the "libreta" and bought for a few cuban pesos. My ethnographic interviews let me focus on how the State is an object of imagination and how it is involved in the desires sphere of the population.

The island of Cuba is under an economic restriction and a commercial embargo stiffened up in the 1990s by U.S.A. Despite that, according to recent statistics, Cuba is characterized by an high index of human development in relation to education, health, and birth expectations. This complex social, economic, and political situation sets Cuba apart from the rest of the Third World. Alimentation is one of the rights guaranteed by the State that - through the so-called "Canasta Basica" - provides food rations for the daily nutritional needs. Thus, in this paper, I assume that the predilection for "status food" has a political outcome and allows cuban people to express their idea of a new "imagined State", neighter only concentrating on aesthetic issues - fat body or slim body - nor on the creation of individual, social, religious or ethnic relationships.

Food, movement and change in a remote Andean community in Bolivia

Author: Cornelia Nell (University of St. Andrews, Scotland)  email
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Long Abstract

During fieldwork in 2008/09 in Cabreca, a small community in the Bolivian Andes, I became fascinated with the ways in which the inhabitants use food in order to position themselves geographically and in relation to other people. My presentation will focus on everyday practices revolving around production and consumption and show that for Cabrequeños food is not only a source of energy; it is used as a medium in order to confirm and challenge social relationships. Rules whether explicitly stated or unspoken are reworked, and social networks are negotiated through foodways and the sharing of food. While permanent movement in the area has always characterised Cabreca lifestyle, attempts to connect to the global world constantly raise new challenges.

In this self-critical reflection on anthropology and on ethnography I ask how legitimate my work is and how the anthropology of food contributes to a deeper understanding of Cabreca life.

Scientific imagination and magical ingredients: towards an anthropology of technofood

Author: Kim Hendrickx (KU Leuven)  email
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Long Abstract

In January 2010, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was to publish a list of accepted health claims made on industrial food products. Most of these health claims concern the alleged benefits of micronutrients present in or added to industrial food products or functional foods. The first part of this paper will give an overview of innovation and technology in the European food industry with the aim of providing physical or psychological health benefits 'beyond basic nutrition'. In the second part, food will be looked at through the lens of power. Throughout human history, different authorities have prescribed what one should (not) eat. What is at stake then, when health claims and food become technological? Finally, it will be tentatively argued that an anthropology of technofood should translate the discourse of market, competitiveness and 'optimized health' in terms of techno-scientific imagination, magical thinking and (bio)power.

Alimentary rhetorics and creative practices: (re-)imagining the self and the world in a time of crisis

Author: Silvia Barberani (Universita Milano Bicocca)  email
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Long Abstract

In contemporary society, characterized by the spread of contradictory discourses around food, by alimentary hyper-reflexivity and by the gradual individualization of food choices and the risks related to them, food is increasingly becoming a means of personal (e.g. nutritionism, scientific and spontaneous dietaries, eating disorders, consumption of industrial organic products) and global (alternative modalities of production and consumption) identity crisis management, as well as a tool that allows the construction of new subjectivities, forms of belonging and planning, and of specific worldviews.

The paper critically examines some of the hegemonic discursive forms (nutritionist rhetoricals, advertising narratives, techniques of food traceability and labeling, certification, speeches which promote alternative food production and consumption) that determine those food choices and consumption practices through which individuals try to create a certain model of self and the world. Food may be considered as a "technology of the self" and alimentary practices may be considered as strategies, creative modes of resistance and subversion of institutionalized structures of power.

Cooking with Bimby and the workings of creativity: a visual ethnography of a demonstration

Author: Monica Truninger (Institute of Social Sciences University of Lisbon)  email
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Long Abstract

Bimby (aka Thermomix) has gained wide sales success in many southern European countries and is a kitchen appliance that promises to revolutionize the way people cook. In a period where concerns are raising about the demise of cooking skills, Bimby is being heralded in the media and the Internet as a magic gadget that turns dreadful cooks into notable 'chefs'. This cooking appliance is directly sold by sales representatives, after a demonstration in future clients' houses. The demonstration mixes economic, social and cultural elements - a good illustration of the cultural economy workings operating in them. Based upon a case study of a demonstration this paper pays special attention to the vendor's discourses around frugality and economic crisis along with occurring creativity processes (e.g. improvisation, shortcutting steps in recipes to save money). The empirical material is based on a visual ethnography to record both performative and discursive elements of cooking practices.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.