The course familiarizes students with the most important anthropological approaches to the social and cultural diversity of the criteria regarding edibility and the classification of edibles into different categories as well as to the diversity of practices by which food is produced or accessed, distributed and consumed. Albeit diverse themselves, these approaches are premiced on the understanding that food-related processes and pactices may not be reduced to organic human needs or to local environmental factors. Special emphasis will be placed on ethnographic and theoretical texts that center on the symbolic qualities of food stuffs and on the culturally sanctioned ways of cooking and as well as on the role of food in the initiation, performance and reproduction of social relations. These symbolic or semiotic apporaches will then be compared with others that focus a) on the material aspects of food and the transformative potential of its incorporation and b) on the role of food in the mediation of the relation between embodied subjects and the world.
Course Content (Syllabus)
The course is divided into the following thematic units: 1) "Introduction:, 2) Biological and cultural processes, 3) "Food for (anthropological) thought", 4) "Proper, improper, special and forbidden foods", 5) "Eating and embodiment", 6) "Mother's breast, mother milk and the feeding bottle" 7) "Hunting and gathering" and 8) "Cannibalism".