Unsettling experience: insights from the case of tasting for a posthuman anthropology
Anna Mann (University of Copenhagen)
Paper short abstract:
Anthropologists of the senses have investigated tasting as an experience people have. Building on a material semiotic/STS approach, the paper analyses how tasting is done in practices of eating in catered events. Through the case of tasting it spells out what a move beyond the human implies.
Paper long abstract:
Anthropologists of the senses have approached tasting as an experience people have and subsequently studied how people living in different parts of the world perceive food multi-sensorially (Sutton 2001, Howes 2003, Holtzman 2009). Recently, an alternative approach to tasting has been developed in STS. This does not take for granted the ontological status of sensual aesthetic relations to food and, instead, studies how tasting comes to be configured in material semiotic relations (Mol 2011, Hennion 2007, Teil 2004). Building on this latter approach, the presentation will explore how tasting is done in practices of eating during events that are catered for. It mobilizes ethnographic material from different events in different Western European countries. It will show how in these events what happens in the mouth becomes related to different entities - perceptions of eyes and noses, transformations of food into body in the belly, or processes of processing of food with dentures and fingers. I will argue that experiencing, in the sense of perceiving flavours, is only one logic of tasting next to which other exist: feeding on and processing food. Through the case of tasting the presentation will thus spell out what a move beyond the human implies and bring out the questions that open up through it.
The post human: what is it good for? Anthropological perspectives