Anthropology of Food and Nutrition

Anthropology of Food and Nutrition




ECTS credit:3

Lecturer(s): prof. dr. Baskar Bojan


The course offers a brief review of key theories, concepts and themes of this anthropological subfield. Functionalist theories: Bronislaw Malinowski, Audrey I. Richards. Structuralist-symbolist theories: Claude Lévi-Strauss, Mary Douglas. Cultural ecological and cultural materialist theories: Marvin Harris, Eric Ross. Historical anthropological theories: Jack Goody, Sidney Mintz. Ethnoecological theories: Jacques Barrau, Igor de Garine, Georges Guille-Escuret. Central concepts: food system; culinary culture; alimentary regime; cuisine; commensality, food taboos, ethnic food. Modes of producing/growing food as related to basic modes of subsistence (hunter-gatherer, agriculturalist, pastoralist, industrialist, postindustrialist). Ecological, economical, demographic, nutritionist and sociological aspects of food production. Processing and cooking food: cultural variability of technical processes of transforming raw food in food, prepared for consuming. Short introduction in cultural technology. Distribution and consumption of food: food sharing (commensality), circulation of food as a mode of reciprocity, table manners, ordinary and festive meals, sacred and ritualized food, spatial and temporal aspects of consuming food (taking meals under different circumstances, street-food, fast-food, slow-food...).
Symbolical aspects of preparing and consuming food: food proscriptions (taboos) and their biological, ecological and cultural contexts. Anthropological approaches to human cannibalism. Food as a marker of ethnic identity. Actual trends in the nutrition of affluent societies: the rise of dietetics, vegetarianism and veganism, the search of 'safe' and 'healthy' food; food, obesity and losing weight; creolization and fusion of cuisines; the search of food authenticity, its guaranteed origin and quality; trends of local food and protecting of regional food products. Food and globalization. The future of food and nutrition. Food as a scarce resource. Food and hunger. Anthropological views of hunger.