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A Dignified Meal

Negotiated Spaces in India’s School Meal Program

Sony Pellissery, Sattwick Dey Biaswas and Biju Abraham

In human rights literature, human dignity is the foundation of human rights. Thus, scholarly literature has focused on rights to further enchance dignity. In this article, we argue that rights alone provide only a minimum of dignity. We examine India’s right to food legislation and its implementation in school meal programs. Based on our observations, we argue that discretion and negotiation are complementary institutional spaces that can be developed for the meaningful enjoyment of rights and thus dignity. The negotiations that take place between school management committees and schoolteachers determine the dignity of the midday meal by improving meal quality and nutritional content, infrastructural facilities, and working arrangements for the cooking and delivery of meals. The findings are based on a study of four schools in the states of Kerala and West Bengal and on a review of studies on the midday meal programs in other Indian states.

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Aidarbek Kochkunov

This article analyses one of the most important components of Kyrgyz culture - the tradition and ritual of hospitality. Features of traditional and modern hospitality are examined on the basis of literary sources and the author's fieldwork. The hospitality ritual and the norms associated with guests are discussed first in their traditional and then in their modern aspects. The author argues that ethnic specificities have been maintained on a large scale. Gender and age in the organisation of meals, as well as the prestige of meat dishes, continue to have traditional character, and the importance of hospitality has been imparted to younger generations. The author concludes that the interaction of innovations and traditions constitute the main content, development and present characteristics of Kyrgyz customs and hospitality rituals.

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Anthropologists and Designers Co-Designing the Future

Report on the Sixth International Applied Anthropology Symposium in Lisbon

Laura Korčulanin and Verónica Reyero Meal

During the last weekend of October 2018, specialists from around the world met in Lisbon for the sixth ‘Why the World Needs Anthropologists’ symposium (WWNA). This yearly conference – which provides a space for sharing information, experiences and discussions regarding applied anthropology – has gone from a one-afternoon symposium to a three-day event with lectures, panel discussions, speed-talks, workshops, guided tours, social events and ‘Hot-Spots’ – stands where a range of institutions, sponsors and partners can present what they do. This year’s conference gathered more than 300 people from 33 countries (and more than a thousand online visitors via live-streaming) to reflect on the possibilities that the emergent discipline of design anthropology brings to anthropologists and designers and for cross-disciplinary collaborations. Significantly named, Designing the Future was a response to what many in the field feel is a time when the world needs more engaged anthropologists to spark ideas and bring out informed and well-thought-out research-based solutions.

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Meals in Foreign Parts

Food in Writing by Nineteenth-Century British Travellers to the Balkans

Ludmilla Kostova

The interest in the narrative and ideological parameters of travel writing,1 which has been an important feature of the Western European and North American academic contexts over the last fifteen years or so, is undoubtedly a reflection of the unique position of the genre as an area thematising and problematising cultural difference and otherness and as a meeting point of varying discourses of gender, race/ethnicity, class, power, domination and counter-domination. Travel narratives have played a key role in current theoretical debates in postcolonial studies, feminism, cultural studies and comparative literature. To my mind, a considerable number of the critical texts that they have engendered in those fields, appear to privilege a particular analytical strategy focusing on the interpretation of what Laura E. Ciolkowski has termed ‘gender-coded visual power’ (1998: 343). This power operates through the travelling subject’s gaze, which is intent upon the construction of the relatively stationary object(s) of his/her observation. By persistently privileging the analysis of the gaze critics have tended to ignore and even erase other aspects of the complex processes of mediation and negotiation in which travellers and ‘travellees’ are involved.

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Shared Meals and Food Fights

Geographical Indications, Rural Development, and the Environment

Fabio Parasecoli and Aya Tasaki

The article highlights relevant issues within the global debate on geographical indications, as they relate to food products. Geographical indications, a form of intellectual property designated by considering principally the place of origin of products, have become a hot topic among producers, activists, economists, and politicians worldwide. Commercial and legal issues related to them have generated complex negotiations in international organizations and national institutions, while their cultural aspects have stimulated theoretical debates about the impact of global trade on local identities. Geographical indications could become a valid tool to implement community-based, sustainable, and quality-oriented agriculture, depending on the sociopolitical environment and whether they are relevant for the producers involved, affordable in terms of administrative and management costs, and applicable on different scales of production. The article also explores the environmental impact of geographical indications and their potential in ensuring the livelihood of rural communities in emerging economies and promoting sustainable agricultural models.

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Hadas Weiss

My goal in this forum essay is to brush the dust off Claude Meillassoux’s (1981) magnum opus, Maidens, Meal and Money, by demonstrating its relevance for the present day. While Meillassoux wrote primarily about precapitalist agricultural communities, he had sketched on their basis a model of social reproduction that incorporates social investments and powers, and he foregrounded the hierarchical and exploitative reproductive orders by which capitalism sustains accumulation. In the context of a renewed interest by feminist scholars in questions of social reproduction, I argue that the analytical tools developed by Meillassoux are at least as helpful in making sense of the age of financialization.

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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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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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Inam Hüsseyin

I was only a few years old when I went into hospital for the first time. As we are a religious family, my parents worried about the food we would be served there. Since they could hardly expect the hospital to observe all the rules of the Halal diet my father simply asked the nurse not to give us pork. A few meal times later we were given sausages. I bit off a piece, but then got a bad conscience and spat it out. In order to avoid a confrontation with the nurse, I secretly dropped the sausages into the dustbin. That afternoon I told my parents about it. When my father called the nurse to account she answered in all seriousness ‘What harm is there in it?’

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The Death Throes of Sacrificed Chicken

Triggering Critical Reflexive Stances on Ritual Action in Togo

Marie Daugey

collective meal that follows the sacrifice. 17 They argued that, in their view, the money given by the president to the officiants responsible for buying the bull was enough to pay for everything that was required to celebrate the rite. When the rite finally