Final Review

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Lena Mortensen

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 people Societies didnt respond to internally to opportunities widened opportunities in ways we find familiar 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 group Social groups characteristically draw food lines, confirm statuses and separate those who belong or not 1 conundrum: foods importance to survival on the one hand and our tendency to take it for granted on the other 2 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 3 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 th 4 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 5 tconundrum: www.notesolution.comWeek 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 porkeating a law they eat and wallow in filth, their meat carries disease and 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 supply. Pigs also need shade or some external way of cooling off, which is why they are seen to wallow in excrement. The area itself is not very wellsuited 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 LeviStrauss 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 LeviStrauss (may he rest in peace) dichotomy of food categories, stating it is too reductionistic, but is a good start. 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 eatingknitting, 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 entre 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 tableit 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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