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Of Traiteurs and Tsars

Potel et Chabot and the Franco-Russian Alliance

Willa Z. Silverman

Between 1893 and 1901, the Parisian traiteur Potel et Chabot catered a series of gala meals celebrating the recent Franco-Russian alliance, which was heralded in France as ending its diplomatic isolation following the Franco-Prussian War. The firm was well adapted to the particularities of the unlikely alliance between Tsarist Russia and republican France. On the one hand, it represented a tradition of French luxury production, including haute cuisine, that the Third Republic was eager to promote. On the other, echoing the Republic’s championing of scientific and technological progress, it relied on innovative transportation and food conservation technologies, which it deployed spectacularly during a 1900 banquet for over twenty-two thousand French mayors, a modern “mega-event.” Culinary discourse therefore signaled, and palliated concerns about, the improbable nature of the alliance at the same time as it revealed important changes taking place in the catering profession.

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The Rise of the "Global Social"

Origins and Transformations of Social Rights under UN Human Rights Law

Ulrike Davy

The article explores how national social policy ideas and UN-sponsored international social rights interrelate, historically and recently. Based on UN documents of the 1940s and 1950s, the article argues that UN-sponsored social rights – the "global social" – originally did not primarily reflect welfare statism (as taken for granted today), but drew on competing ideas (liberal welfare statism, developmental thinking, socialism). Based on an analysis of the state reports under the Social Covenant from 1977 to 2011, the article also argues that the states' reading of the UN social rights became more homogeneous over time. Only from the 1990s did essentials of welfare statism spread globally. This recent reading of the "global social" focuses on poverty and basic rights, such as the right to food and housing, with instruments like social assistance and measures enabling access to health services, education and land. The article draws on a global database of UN documents created by the author.

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Fancy Some Cobra?

Exploring Vietnamese Cuisine in Contemporary Culinary Travelogues

Jopi Nyman

This article focuses on the representation of Vietnam and its foods in contemporary travel narratives, with particular reference to two culinary travelogues, Anthony Bourdain’s bestselling book A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal (2001) and Keith Floyd’s travelogue/recipe book Far Flung Floyd (1994). What unites the two volumes is their protagonists’ attempts to map the space of the Other through culinary experiences. In these texts, both Floyd and Bourdain travel in Vietnamese settings to convey their culinary traditions to Euro-American audiences, occasionally foregrounding cultural differences in culinary practices and ways of eating to construct images of the Vietnamese Other, something that calls for urgent critical attention, not least because of the high popularity of these texts.

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Workings of the State

Administrative Lists, European Union Food Aid, and the Local Practices of Distribution in Rural Romania

Ştefan Dorondel and Mihai Popa

In this article we analyze local distribution practices within an EU food aid program in Romania. We show that an understanding of this program's implementation can contribute to our understanding of how the state works in present-day Romania and, more generally, to the anthropology of the state. We examine the ways in which local-level bureaucrats gain discretion and exercise it when implementing the program. By securing greater control over a scarce transnational resource, local officials are able to shape national policy according to local distributive models. The described distribution process is conducive to community building, although in very different ways in the two rural settings being studied. We argue for a relational analysis of the workings of the state that explores the embeddedness of local actors and their participation in historically shaped power relations.

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Sarah Michelle Stohlman, Alice Szczepaniková, Ewa Ignaczak, Oane Visser, Peter Scholliers, Sjaak van der Geest, Hans Vermeulen, Tomasz Płonka, Jaap TImmer, and Oscar Salemink

Sarah Ahmed, Claudia Castañeda, Anne-Marie Fortier, and Mimi Sheller (eds.), Uprootings/regroundings: questions of home and migration

Susanne Binder and Jelena Tošič (eds.), Refugee studies and politics: human dimensions and research perspectives, and Philomena Essed, Georg Frerks, and Joke Schrijvers (eds.), Refugees and the transformation of societies: agency, policies, ethics and politics

Paul John Eakin (ed.), The ethics of life writing

Chris Hann and the ‘Property Relations’ group, The postsocialist agrarian question: property relations and the rural condition

Anne J. Kershen (ed.), Food in the migrant experience

Michael Lambek and Paul Antze (eds.), Illness and irony: on the ambiguity of suffering in culture

Cristóbal Mendoza, Labour immigration in Southern Europe: African employment in Iberian labour markets

Thomas Carl Patterson, Marx’s ghost: conversations with archaeologists

Adam Reed, Papua New Guinea’s last place: experiences of constraint in a postcolonial prison

Shinji Yamashita and J. S. Eades (eds.), Globalization in Southeast Asia: local, national and transnational perspectives

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Nature’s Market?

A Review of Organic Certification

Shaila Seshia Galvin

As organic food becomes more widely available, great faith is placed on the seal or logo that certifies organic status. This article treats the mark of certification as a starting rather than an end point, critically reviewing literature from diverse national and regional contexts. Exploring questions concerning the extent to which organic certification assists or undermines the goal of ecological sustainability, abets the advance of large-scale agricultural capital, and supports the livelihood of smallholder farmers, the article considers the theoretical foundations, methodologies and modes of inquiry that have guided studies of organic agriculture and certification. It brings this research into conversation with literatures on audit cultures, quality, and with ongoing nature-culture debates. Through critical review of the literature and the author's extensive fieldwork with organic smallholders in northern India, the article suggests possible directions in which the literature may be expanded and advanced.

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Comparing Risk Regulation in the United States and France

Asbestos, Aids and Genetically Modified Agriculture

David Vogel and Jabril Bensedrine

This article compares three health, safety and environmental policies in France and the United States: the regulation of asbestos, the regulatory impact of the health crisis associated with AIDS, and the regulation of genetically modified foods and seeds. These cases illustrate the evolution of regulatory policies and politics in France and the United States over the last three decades. In brief, risk management policies have become less politicized and risk averse in the United States, while they have become more politicized and risk averse in France. In many respects, regulatory politics and policies in France during the 1990s resemble those of the United States from the 1960s and through the late 1980s.

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A Transatlantic Friendship

The Close Relationship between the Historians Georges Lefebvre and Robert R. Palmer

James Friguglietti

For some twenty years the historians Georges Lefebvre and Robert R. Palmer maintained a "transatlantic friendship." Beginning with his translation of Lefebvre's Coming of the French Revolution, Palmer became a close friend of his French colleague, providing him with much-needed food, books, and information. In return Lefebvre published articles written by his American friend in his journal Annales historiques de la Révolution française as well as offered advice about his research. Thanks to their intellectual cooperation, the two advanced the study of the Revolution in their respective countries. Despite the considerable differences between their political outlooks—Lefebvre was a committed Marxist and Palmer was a liberal Democrat—the two men remained close friends until Lefebvre's death in 1959. Much of this article is based on the recently published correspondence of Lefebvre with Palmer.

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Kuwait and Iran

Mutual Contact in the Pre-oil Era

Yacoub Y. Al-Hijji

This article examines the relations and interaction between Kuwait and Iran before the export of oil from Kuwait in 1946. It begins with a short account of the establishment of Kuwait as a small maritime community, the ramifications of its location amongst its three large neighbours, and Iran's role in helping Kuwait to establish its roots as a seafaring community by providing its earlier inhabitants with basic food requirements. The article then goes on to review several aspects of the interaction between Iran and Kuwait and the influence that these communities have had on one another. It concludes by emphasising that the relationship of mutuality between the two countries must continue in this age of oil and globalisation for the benefit of both peoples.

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Anthropocene Dynamics in the Prehistoric Pacific

Modeling Emergent Socioecological Outcomes of Environmental Change

Thomas P. Leppard

How will human societies evolve in the face of the massive changes humans themselves are driving in the earth systems? Currently, few data exist with which to address this question. I argue that archaeological datasets from islands provide useful models for understanding long-term socioecological responses to large-scale environmental change, by virtue of their longitudinal dimension and their relative insulation from broader biophysical systems. Reviewing how colonizing humans initiated biological and physical change in the insular Pacific, I show that varied adaptations to this dynamism caused diversification in social and subsistence systems. This diversification shows considerable path dependency related to the degree of heterogeneity/homogeneity in the distribution of food resources. This suggests that the extent to which the Anthropocene modifies agroeconomic land surfaces toward or away from patchiness will have profound sociopolitical implications.