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Lahore University of Management Sciences

ANTH 26X - Food & Culture

Fall 2010-2011

Instructor: Dr. Sadaf Ahmad

Office: 213 New SS Wing
Office hours: 10am-12pm, Mon & Wed,
or by appointment

Course Description
Food is central to human life, not simply in terms of the role it plays in sustaining our physical
bodies, but also in terms of its social and cultural significance. This course will make attempts to
comprehend this significance by gaining a cross-cultural understanding of dietary preferences
and food taboos, food symbolism and food rituals, the role of food in preserving ethnic identity
and the means through which food becomes a vehicle to express various social selves, the
gendered dimensions of food, and the role food plays in shaping who we are and how we view
the world. This course will also highlight how people‟s diets and food tastes have never been
static, but rather “evolve,” through first exploring the human diet and food production and
consumption from an evolutionary perspective, and then taking a closer look at the intersection
between food and colonialism, and food and global corporations, to see the role they have played
and are playing in shaping not just the political economies of different cultures, but also in
constructing cultural identities and culture itself. In other words, this course will facilitate
students to think about food in new and provocative ways, and encourage them to see how it is
one of the keys to understanding and thinking about culture.

Course Objectives
To engage with the idea of food as a cultural construct
To use food and foodways as a means of understanding different cultures (what they value, how
they change, the connections they have with the larger world)
To explore the dialectic relationship that exists between food consumption and identity formation
To understand the manner in which the local and global forces intertwine in various
times and places to impact food production, distribution, and consumption.

Course Readings
The readings for this course are primarily based in the discipline of anthropology. These include
some classic pieces on food and food consumption, as well as more recent and innovative takes

on these subjects in specific ethnographic contexts. However, given the nature of the course, a
number of works spanning a variety of humanities and social science disciplines, such as history,
sociology, psychology, and literature, have also been included.

All of these readings (taken from the texts listed below) can be found in the course reader.
Although some copies of the reader will be available in the library, I strongly urge you to get
your own copies as soon as possible.

Note: Extra copies of the first reading will kept in a shelf in the new SS Wing. If you think that
you will not get your reader in time for you to do the first reading (and in case you are unable to
access the reader in the library) on time, take a copy from the shelf, get it photocopied, and
return the original from where you took it. Not having a course reader will not be accepted as an
excuse for not having done the reading.

Texts Used:

Banerjee, Chitrita (2001). The Hour of the Goddess. Delhi: Penguin Books.

Carole, Counihan (1999). The Anthropology of Food and Body. New York: Routledge.

Carole, Counihan (Ed.) (2002). Food in the USA: A Reader. New York: Routledge.

Counihan, Carole and Penny Van Esterk (Eds.) (1997). Food and Culture: A Reader. New York:

Grew, Raymond (Ed.) (1999). Food in Global History. Colorado: Westview Press

Harris, Marvin (1985). Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture. Long Grove, Illinois:
Westview Press.

Pilcher, Jeffery (2006). Food in World History. New York: Routledge.

Schlosser, Eric (2004). Fast Food Nation. New York: Harper Press.

Suan, Tan Gek (2004). Gateway to Peranakan Food Culture. Singapore: Asiapac.

Watson, James, and Melissa Caldwell (Eds.) (2005) The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating: A
Reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Grade Distribution
Class participation 5%
Attendance 5%

Group Research Project & Presentation 20%
Food Diary & Essay 20%
Mid-Term 25%
Final Exam 25%

Student Responsibilities

Attend the lectures:

You are expected to be present in ALL class sessions.

Be in class on time. If you are more than ten minutes late, or if you leave class before it
is over, you will get an “absent” for that class.

Do the readings:
It is essential for you to do all the assigned readings. Careful and thoughtful reading will
be crucial to your performance in the course.

Hand in your work when it is due. Late work will NOT be accepted.

Turn your mobile phones OFF before entering the classroom.

There will be 28 sessions of 100 minutes each. These 28 sessions will be made up of lectures and
seminars. Attendance is critical as both lectures and seminars are opportunities for learning and
essential for a good performance in this course.

Please note that more than two unexcused absences will result in your losing your attendance
points (3 unexcused absences means you lose half the points; more than 3 unexcused absences
means you lose all the points).

Class Participation
Your class participation score will largely be based on your participation in class room
discussions and on your ability to answer any question posed to you. You may also be
occasionally asked to do some „class work‟ based on the readings for that day. The score you
receive will be added to your CP points for that day.

Group Project & Presentation

There are a number of seminars in this course that will be devoted to group presentations. Each
group will be given a pre-assigned topic on which to make a presentation. This allows students a

greater level of interaction and engagement with course material. It also gives greater flexibility
in terms of breadth of material covered.

Groups will be expected to conduct (primarily primary) research on their topics and to analyze
their findings/bring out their significance by drawing upon relevant course material wherever

The presentations will be 25-30 minutes long and will be followed by a discussion/question and
answer session. Information on the grading criteria and tips regarding how to give good
presentations will be put up on LMS once the semester commences.

Readings may not always be assigned for seminar days, but students should have read the
assigned reading material prior to the seminar if it is assigned so that they can contribute in a
constructive manner to the ensuing discussion. Seminars can be very good or very ordinary
depending on the contribution of the students. If students are unprepared and therefore unwilling
to contribute the session becomes a wasted opportunity. If however students are well prepared,
class participation can lead to a very rich, varied and productive discussion.

Food Diary & Analysis

This assignment is comprised of two parts.

Part 1 requires you to write self observation notes with reference to what you eat and drink over
a period of (at least) seven days. Part 2 requires you to analyze your notes and write a critical
essay interrogating this data, making links with concepts that have been discussed in the course if
and when appropriate.

Detailed instruction for both these parts will be put up on LMS once the course commences. The
assignment will be due in Session 28.

Mid-Term and Final Exam

Your exams will comprise of a combination of questions: those testing you on your familiarity
and comprehension of the course material (MCQ‟s, T/F, Fill in the blanks) and those that will
assess your ability to draw upon relevant course material to construct an argument/take a
theoretical stance. The course material includes the lectures, readings and any films you see in

Class Schedule

Session 1 Introduction to the Course

Session 2 Introduction to the Course

The History of Food

Session 3 * Jeffery Pilcher‟s “The First World Cuisine,” and “The Columbian
Exchange,” in Food in World History. (Pg. 8-25)

Session 4 * Stephen Mennell‟s “On the Civilizing of Appetite,” in Food and Culture
(Pgs. 315-334)

Session 5 *Alex McIntosh‟s “The Family Meal and its Significance in Global Times”
in Food in Global History. (Pg. 217-234)

Riddles of Food & Culture

Session 6 * Marvin Harris‟s “The Riddle of the Sacred Cow,” and “Small Things,” in Good
to Eat. (Pgs. 47-66, 154-174)

Film: Taboo-Food

Session 7 * Mary Douglas‟s “Deciphering a Meal,” in Food and Culture. (Pg. 36-53)

Food, Culture & Gender

Session 8 * Carole Counihan‟s “Food, Culture and Gender,” in The Anthropology of
Food and Body. (Pg. 6-24)

* Emily Massara‟s “Que Gordita,” in Food and Culture. (Pg. 251-254)

Session 9 * Susan Bordo‟s “Anorexia Nervosa” in Food and Culture (Pgs. 226-244)

* Caroline Bynum‟s “Fast, Feast, and Flesh: The Religious Significance of

Food to Medieval Women,” in Food and Culture. (Pg. 138-151)

Food & Meaning

Session 10 Film: Like Water for Chocolate

Session 11 * Tan Gek Suan‟s “Gateway to Perankan Food Culture.” (Pg. 37-48)

*Chitrita Banerji‟s “Feeding the Gods,” “Crossing the Borders,” and “What
Bengali Widows Cannot Eat,” in The Hour of the Goddess: Memories of
Women, Food and Ritual in Bengal. (Pgs. 11-26, 59-73, 95-104)

Session 12 Seminar

Food Signifying Identities

Session 13 * Carole Counihan‟s “Food as Women‟s Voice in the San Luis Valley of
Colorado,” and James Taggart‟s “Food, Masculinity, and Place in the Hispanic
Southwest,” in Food in the USA. (Pg. 295-313)

Session 14 * Marvalene Hughes‟s “Soul, Black Women, and Food,” in Food and
Culture. (Pg. 272-280)

* Elisha Renne‟s “Mass Producing Food Traditions for West Africans Abroad” in
American Anthropologist 109(4): 616-624

Session 15 Seminar
* Richard Wilk‟s “ „Real Belizean Food‟: Building Local Identity in the
Transnational Caribbean,” in American Anthropologist 101(2): 244-255

Session 16 Mid-Term

The Politics of Food & Eating

Session 17 * Theodor Bestor‟s “How Sushi Went Global,” in The Cultural Politics of
Food and Eating. (Pg. 13-20)

* Harvey Levenstein‟s “The American Response to Italian Food, 1880-

1930,” in Food in the USA. (Pg. 75-90)

Session 18 Seminar

Session 19 * William Roseberry‟s “The Rise of Yuppie Coffees and the Reimagination
of Class in the United States,” in The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating. (Pg.

Session 20 Seminar

Session 21 Seminar
* Susan J. Rerrio‟s “Crafting Grand Cru Chocolates in Contemporary France,”
in The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating. (Pg. 144-158)

Session 22 * Eriberto Lozada‟s “Globalized Childhood? Kentucky Fried Chicken in Beijing,”

in The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating. (Pg. 163-179)

Session 23 * Melissa L. Caldwell‟s “Domesticating the French Fry: McDonald‟s and
Consumerism in Moscow,” in The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating.
(Pg. 180-192)

* Eric Schlosser‟s “Why the Fries Taste Good,” in Fast Food

Nation. (Pg. 111-131)

Session 24 Film: Supersize Me or Fast Food Inc.

The Political Economy of Food

Session 25 * Hans & Judith-Maria Buechler‟s “The Bakers of Bernburg and the Logics of
Communism and Capitalism,” in The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating.
(Pg. 259-275)

Session 26 No reading

Session 27 Seminar

Session 28 No reading Food Diary Assignment Due

Final Exam