Preprint / Version 1

Open Anthro Vol 4-2 Food Anthropology



Open Anthropology, food, Agriculture and Food, Food and Nutrition, Food Consumption, Food Preparation


The Editors’ Note
Jason Antrosio, Department of Anthropology, Hartwick College
Sallie Han, Department of Anthropology, SUNY Oneonta

Vogues in social science are sometimes difficult to explain. So what is it about food? To the staggering overflow of cookbooks and of television food shows can now be added books—anthropological, poetic, historical, sociological—about food. . . . Never before have there been so many books about food itself, the experience of eating, the relation between taste and smell, the sensual and sensory of food—food and sex, food and gender, food and obesity, food and ethnicity. This onrush of tracts dealing with the subject shows no signs of slackening, yet no one (least of all this reviewer) seems able to explain it. Social scientists figure among the writers. Novelists and autobiographers are not far behind. Unlike Proust, most of them are writing about food, not about food's relevance to life's experience; life turns out to be a background for food, as it has become background for every other burning subject of the moment.
--Sidney W. Mintz, L' Appetit Vient en Mangeant, 1998

As the late Sidney W. Mintz—widely regarded as the father of “Food Anthropology” and to whom this selection of articles appears in tribute—noted in 1998, food has come into serious vogue in anthropology, the social sciences, and throughout the world. Although food has long been a topic of anthropological research, interest in food exploded in the 1990s and has been growing ever since. In a curious reversal, just when the celebrants of Western modernization were ready to pronounce humanity’s liberation from its constant food quest, the quest for food reappears to define our times. Whether the food quest is a constant search for the aesthetic or the authentic, for contemplation or entertainment, for study, or for staking moral and political positions, food continues to consume us.


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