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ANTB64H3 Study Guide - Final Guide: Proletarianization, Coriander, Bottled Water

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Lena Mortensen
Study Guide

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Anthropology Final Review
Week 1: Introduction: Food, Symbolism and Meaning
Consider the distinctivve role of food played in contrasndiction to all other commodoties in
American everyday life
Anthropological studies of food and eating are long standing
Small third world societies at the time early studies were being preformed, the foods coming from
outside of the society, were of trivial significance in local diets
The boundaries between societies are always being crossed, but it is still possible to treat
production, consumption and distribution as a single systematic web
As food was distributed, political authority expectably accompanied it
Increased local productivity dont lead inexorably to greater production, wider markets, longer
hours of work, higher pay, larger houses or persisting numbers of unemployed and homeless
Societies didnt respond to internally to opportunities widened opportunities in ways we find
Studies showed that people took great pride in their food and work and used food ceremonially
We need to understand how new foods and schedules, enhanced and enforced by migration and
the splitting of the family labour unit remake local life
Food is extremely important for sustenance, but also a symbolic marker of membership in a social
Social groups characteristically draw food lines, confirm statuses and separate those who belong
or not
1st conundrum: foods importance to survival on the one hand and our tendency to take it for
granted on the other
2nd conundrum: the ways people feel about particular foods they eat; food habits are close to the
core of the culture and sometimes functions as a language
3rd conundrum: the problem of governance in a democratic capitalist society obsessed by its
culturally specific notions of individual freedom; how to protection the citizen on the one hand
and maintain freedom of choice on the other
4th conundrum: to some extent is gender based; both men and women are brought up with ideas of
what individuality are & the right to consume food and what symbolizes it is different between
the genders
5th conundrum:

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Week 2: Beginnings: Interpreting Food and Culture
Harris: The Adominable Pig: Pork in Jewish Culture
He explores possible reasons why pigs were declared as unfit to eat by God in the Old Testament.
He first points out why, in general, raising pigs for meat is a much more fruitful endeavor.
Compared to cows and sheep, pigs turn more of their food into flesh, have a shorter gestational
period, give birth to more life young at one time, and are fully grown in a shorter period of time.
Then he states some of the arguments used to explain making the abstinence from pork-eating a
lawthey eat and wallow in filth, their meat carries diseaseand explains why they shouldnt
make much sense.
When there is a need, other domestic animals will eat feces, and all undercooked meats carry the
potential for spreading disease. The explanation he offers takes an approach thats more about the
economy and the resources required to raise pigs for meat.
Animals with ruminating stomachs do very well with eating tough grasses and plants that humans
cannot eat, while pigs have stomachs more similar to humans and must share in the same food
Pigs also need shade or some external way of cooling off, which is why they are seen to wallow in
The area itself is not very well-suited for raising swine, especially with a growing human
population. Pigs thrive more in a shady forest area, while the demands of more and more humans
cause forests to be taken down to make way for crop fields. The land then becomes more desert-
like, and it becomes more and more costly to raise pigs because their needs are harder to meet.
In short, Harris theory is that the ban of swine comes from the impracticality of raising them. It
is very different from the generally perceived and discussed cultural aspect of not eating pork.
Jewish people in the United States, for example, have no ecological need to keep abstaining from
pig meat because the meat is provided fairly inexpensively and Americans as a whole are not
competing with pigs for certain foods.
They continue to uphold these outdated (from Harris point of view) laws more for tradition and
identity, which fits in better with Mary Douglas ideas of danger and encroachment. I take these
to mean the encroachment of other societal norms into the Jewish way of life and the danger of
Jewish culture being lost to the big conglomeration of cultures that is American culture.
Deciphering A Meal: Mary Douglas
Douglas is trying to analyze foodways as she does language or symbols or ideology, but using
Levi-Strauss binary opposites.
She begins by talking of food as if it contains messages about patterned social relations,
hierarchies, boundaries, and transactions. It is biological and it is social.
Douglas conducts a micro analysis of one meal within one home. She critiques Levi-Strauss (may
he rest in peace) dichotomy of food categories, stating it is too reductionistic, but is a good start.

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The precoded message is found in a binary pair of raw and cooked, woman and man, and so on.
There is a syntagmatic relation of food that is analogous to language, such as menus, meal,
course, helping, etc. Douglas, being British, uses her cultures codes to delineate the menu into
primary and secondary structures, i.e., breakfast, dinner, high tea, supper, etc. She does the same
for the structure of the meal itself. Is it sweet or savory elements and exponents of elements into
primary and secondary course structures, such as entrees and desserts, chicken and ice cream. She
even goes deep enough to depict type of soup as clear or thick, or type of fish as poached or fried.
She also asks of the course if it is a Joint (flesh), Staple (cereal) or Adjunct (veggie), down the
tiniest mouthful (gastronomic morpheme).
She then contrasts meals and drinks. She looks at sequence and naming (cocktails, drinks, wine,
coffee, tea).
In India, purity and caste membership is a qualifier, especially for pipe smoking and the sharing
of food and drink.
In England tea is a whole meal. And, at what time do you dine?
In France they dine from 9 to midnight.
She looks at how we use utensils (in Kenya they use their hands). How do you sit? What is
appropriate to do while eating…knitting, reading, talking, burping, farting, or silence? Who do
you eat with?
A male Arapesh can never dine with his mother or sister, as that is incest. Douglas says that in
England drinks are a wide category of folk but meals are for family and friends. Drinks and cold
finger foods = acquaintances; hot meals = intimates.
Certain days require special meals (Sunday luncheon= two entrees); meals are ordered by
importance throughout the week. There are expectations that must be met, simple to complex.
There are also historical meals, like Napoleons chicken Merango or the American turkey and
stuffing (not entirely historically accurate, but now a tradition).
Douglas says that a proper meal is a stressed entrée plus two unstressed courses. So, an egg on
toast with parsley would do or a soup with noodles and cheese. The French define a good meal by
wine and cheese, savory and sweet. Individual courses in a sequence are eaten. English and
American mix their courses on one platter. Means are then conveyers of social events,
relationships, symbolic meaning, and cognitive structures with express functions.
Food is poetic, too. The laws of kashrut have a rhythm, enclosing boundless space for the
outpouring of the heart. Food is close to the heart and the soul. In New Guinea and Thailand they
posit animal classifications in terms of marriageable persons. So a bad son in law is like a dog or
otter. Sexual and gastronomic consummation correlate in restrictions.
Food and sex is a common theme. Among Jews, it seems there are no restrictions between table
and alter, bed and table…it is governed by endogamy or marrying in (unlike the Arapesh who
cannot eat food with their mothers (incest).
Food rules of Jewish culture: reject certain animals, separate meat and blood and milk from meat.
Blood belongs to God alone; blood must be separated from the meat (women are separated from
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