We will be in Session #8689 on Sunday. Here is a link to the preliminary program schedule:
Here is the abstract for the session:
This panel will address theory and methods that prove useful in overcoming the impediments inherent in reconciling quantitative dietary recall data with qualitative ethnographic observation of foodways. We will share theories and practices that help illuminate these difficult but interesting spaces of disjuncture. Instead of presenting these incongruous results as failure in the field, we will present current ethnographic examples, which will dig deeper into these seemingly divergent responses to find novel ways to apply theory as well as further anthropological understanding of how humans use and interpret their foodways. Our work deals with the overlapping themes of: problematic food labeling and terminology, shifting place-specific identities (be that public/private or periphery/core), and issues of rejection and resistance made obvious by individual choices of foodways.
We represent undergraduate, masters, PhD candidate and post-doctoral level research on the understanding of human practice with regard to food. Each of us incorporates a different theoretical and methodological approach in an attempt to understand these tensions between discourse and practice.
An Assistant Professor delves into the political economy surrounding contested discourses between NGOs and corporate food scientists as it impacts new food laws after public health scandals in Taiwan. She looks at this from top down as well as bottom up points of view mainly focusing on traditional farmers and their re-definition of ‘authenticity’.
Our baccalaureate presenter will analyze the conscious consumer’s performance of morality in public vs. private coffee consumption utilizing a combination of Geertz’s work on symbolic meaning and Bourdieu’s notions of habitus. His work also addresses methodologies for analyzing the abstract food terminology present in so many dietary recall questionnaires and surveys.
An M.A. presents her fieldwork dealing with disjunctures between the pre vs. post-race foodways beliefs and practices of endurance runners in California. She deals with issues of body types and food beliefs and how those ideals are influenced by scientific hegemony as well as rituals of identity and rebellion.
Our doctoral candidate applies Bourdieu’s practice theory to the complexity of identity formation. Her work addresses issues with dietary recall surveys and illustrates how the ‘simple’ tortilla can become a complex symbol of identity, which carries varying meanings at the family, village, state and national levels in Mexico.
We reference specific field situations in order to highlight the difficulty a foodways researcher faces when they encounter discrepancies between what people eat and what they say they eat. We will not only present the data pointing to the incongruities, but we will share anthropological methods and theory that help to analyze these rich opportunities for ethnographic understanding. It is our hope that these ‘current engagements’ within our field sites will help anthropologists understand the ‘future publics’ formed by the adaptations occurring in these food communities.
Keywords: disjuncture, food labeling, discourse, practice, identity, public vs. private, morality, authenticity, foodways, habitus, rebellion