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ANTHROP 1AA3 Lecture Notes - Marvin Harris

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Tracy Prowse

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March 28, 2013
Reasons for food taboos:
-Early anthropologists – “quirk” of culture
-environmental reasons – not suitable for area or scarce
-medical reasons – unhealthy (ex parasites)
-symbolic reasons – unnatural
-social reasons – to increase cohesion within groups and/or reinforce differences between groups
(us and them)
how did taboos about eating dogs develop?
Marvin Harris – dogs used for transport, hunting, protection, warmth and companionship
-services more valuable than meat
-therefore dogs will be eaten in cultures where their services are not needed and/or important
Important points
-food is more than just nutrition
-as in other aspects of life, food is an expression of our culture
-food is symbolic & ritualized ; it has meaning
-meaning varies within and between human groups
Food and Subsistence
aspects of food examined in anthropology:
-distribution; gifts/exchange/feasts
growing conditions: location of masses of land / temperature = major factors to what can
carrying capacity : the number of people who can be sustained by the resources and
environment in which they live
subsistence affects:
-settlement pattern
-division of labour
-peoples whose subsistence pattern is hunting and gathering
-mobile – follow the food
-food sources include : game hunting, fishing, collecting
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