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Ritualizing the Everyday

The Dangerous Imperative of Hospitality in Apiao, Chiloé

Giovanna Bacchiddu

Based on an analysis of ethnographic data collected in Apiao, Chiloé, this article offers a view of relations as inescapably fraught connections between different entities. These relations are articulated in highly ritualized hospitality practices involving reciprocal exchange of food and drinks in a domestic space. Cutting across established, contrasting analytical categories, such as consanguines/affines and friends/enemies, hospitality practices reveal the immanence of otherness. Relations can occur only among different/differentiated individuals and are always expressed through an alternation of the contingent positions of host and guest, where one offers and another receives. In hospitality interactions, sameness is denied and transformed into otherness, revealing the importance of asymmetry and disclosing the latent hostility and potential danger implicit in relations. The other is first and foremost a dangerous and unpredictable guest.

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Eva Johanna Holmberg and Chloë Houston

What did early modern English people think about “strangers”? This speech from the play Sir Thomas More, written by Anthony Munday and others and first performed in the early 1590s, gives an emphatic answer to this question. Strangers were “aliens” who “braved and abused ... freeborn Englishmen” (1.1.111, 74, 72). By their presence in London they stole both food and women from their rightful English owners, committing “vild enormities” and “insolencies” against the native people (1.1.81, 90). The extract above comes from a playbill designed by the broker John Lincoln, who calls on the “worshipful lords and masters of the city” to bring these injustices to an end (1.1.106-7). The text of the bill is taken verbatim from Holinshed’s 1587 Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, which related the events dramatized in the play, the “Ill May Day” protests of 1517.

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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.

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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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Raw liver, singed sheep's head, and boiled stomach pudding

Encounters with traditional Buriat cuisine

Sharon Hudgins

Indigenous to Inner Asia, Buriats are a formerly nomadic people who now reside in southern Siberia, in the areas east and west of Lake Baikal. Although settled members of the Russian Federation, their traditional cuisine reflects their nomadic roots. Milk and meat products - from horses, cattle, sheep, and goats - are still the two main components of the Buriats' diet, supplemented by wild and cultivated plants (primarily hardy grains and root vegetables). Despite living within the dominant Russian culture, some Buriats still retain their shamanistic beliefs and make offerings to deities or spirits when drinking alcohol or eating certain foods. They have also preserved their ritual methods of slaughtering and butchering livestock, as well as traditional ways of processing the meat.

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T.S. Kalandarov and A.A. Shoinbekov

This article describes some aspects of funeral rites among indigenous people of the Badakhshan autonomous region in Tajikistan, for most of whom the religious denomination is Ismailism. The ceremonies focus on ritual purification and seeing off the soul of the deceased person into another world. A set of obligatory rituals and rites are described, including lamp lighting, mourning rules, and memorial foods and celebrations. After analysing a wide range of data, the authors conclude that Western Pamir Ismailites believe that a dead body is inhabited by a corpse demon that brings harm to people. Although the described customs and rituals are generally Muslim and reflect features of the traditional Pamir world view, they are most probably part of the region's pre-Islamic heritage.

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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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Malcolm Johnston

Designers of the products and environments we use have a significant responsibility to maintain quality of life for elderly and disabled people. Their ability to achieve this is limited both by information available to them and by the attitudes of society. The fact that we age is immutable and predictably changes the nature of our lifestyles. The environments around us and our daily living tools enhance our abilities to fulfil our lifestyles. In the kitchen, for example, the basic need of food preparation is rendered highly efficient through the layout of work-tops, sink and cooker and made quicker by tools such as mixers and microwaves. Designers have created these tools which meet the needs of the large majority of potential users. Designers can therefore also meet the change of needs resulting from the effects of the ageing process.

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The seed and the citizen

Biosocial networks of confiscation and destruction in Canada

Birgit Müller

While farmers set up conditions for the development of plants, the seeds they help grow into plants determine conditions for the farmers. Modern plants not only have agronomic characteristics but also intellectual property rights, phytosanitary regulations, and classifications attached to them. Interacting with their seeds creates fields of property and power, situations of possibility and impossibility, in which farmers and breeders operate. The biosocial networks from which seeds emerge are animated by bureaucratic measures, property relations, and research and cultivation practices that I will explore in action. Seeds not only become what they are in multifarious networks of natural, cultural, and political agencies, but their emergence and coevolution with humans is ruptured through deregistration, persecution, confiscation, and destruction of proprietary seeds. This article will take the reader from the fields of farmers in Saskatchewan to seed breeders in Saskatoon and ultimately to public meetings organized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ottawa.

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Bruno Latour

This article reflects on the traditional distinction between scientific laboratories experimenting on theories and phenomena and a political outside where non-experts make do with human values, opinions, and passions. Since today all people are engaged in emerging collective experiments on matters as varied as climate, food, landscape, health, urban design, and technical communication as consumers, militants, and citizens, they can all be considered co-researchers. Co-researching has consequences for our understanding of nature and demands a renewed attention to “multinaturalist” politics. It also questions the division of labor between experts and nonexperts. The article finishes with a call to “dis-invent” modernity so that we “moderns” can finally become ordinary humans again.