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Reimagining Marginalized Foods

Global Processes, Local Places

Edited by Elizabeth Finnis

Publication Year: 2012

With globalization has come an increased focus on food--where it comes from, how it is transported, who eats it, and what cultural significance it has. This volume brings together ethnographically based anthropological analyses of shifting meanings and representations associated with the foods, ingredients, and cooking practices of marginalized and/or indigenous cultures. Contributors are particularly interested in how these foods intersect with politics, nationhood and governance, identity, authenticity, and conservation.

The chapters cover diverse locales, issues, and foods: the cultural meanings of sinonggi, a thick sago porridge from Sulawesi, Indonesia; the significance of pom, a Surinam dish popular in the Netherlands; the transformation of alpaca meat in Peru; the impact of culinary tourism on indigenous cuisine in Mexico; the re-presenting of minor millets in South India; and the development of cheeses in the Italian Alps. A conceptual essay on food and social boundaries rounds out the collection.

Throughout, the contributors address important questions, including: How are traditional foods "repackaged" in the process of mainstreaming access? What does this repackaging mean for the ways local or indigenous peoples view their traditional food practices? How are local cuisines mobilized in movements to create national images and identities? What tensions emerge between new representations of foods and local cultural meanings?

Together the contributors provide a thoughtful inquiry into what happens when food and culinary practices are moved from the cultural or physical margins, and how such movements can be shaped by--and employed in the pursuit of--political, social, and cultural goals.

Published by: University of Arizona Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. 1-14

This volume offers a series of ethnographic considerations of the ways marginal foods may be reimagined in the process of bringing them to mainstream consumers. When we use the term marginal, we specifically refer to distinct foods and culinary practices that have tended to be associated with peripheral or non-elite populations and cultural groups; ...

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1. Loving People, Hating What They Eat: Marginal Foods and Social Boundaries

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pp. 15-33

This is a conceptual essay that asks general questions about how likes and dislikes for cuisines are related to attitudes towards groups of people. Why do people sometimes want to eat the food of a despised other, for example, Chinese food among Anglo settlers in gold rush California? ...

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2. Highland Haute Cuisine: The Transformation of Alpaca Meat

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pp. 34-48

“The real reason to visit Peru is the food,” proclaimed the Guardian in April 2008 (Doran 2008). Over the past several years, Lima, dubbed the gastronomic capital of South America by the Toronto Star (Ferguson 2007), has become, according to the Washington Post, a new “destination for foodies” (Khalip 2007). ...

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3. Redefining the Cultural Meanings of Sinonggi during the Indonesian Decentralization Era

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pp. 49-66

This chapter discusses the intersecting processes of change in governmental politics and food culture via a consideration of the consumption of sinonggi (sago palm flour paste) in Indonesia. Since the late 1990s, the Indonesian political and administrative paradigm has shifted towards decentralization and regional autonomy. ...

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4. When the Marginal Becomes the Exotic: The Politics of Culinary Tourism in Indigenous Communities in Rural Mexico

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pp. 67-87

Anthropologists have long examined the persistence of indigenous lifeways and subsistence systems, studying the manner in which these peoples continue to reproduce foodways historically devalued by national elite and dominant cultures. These so-called marginal foods often occupy a central place in the reproduction of social life, relations, ...

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5. Discovering Pom’s Potential

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pp. 88-108

This essay explores the meanings of pom, a dish that is central in Surinamese cuisine. Pom migrated to the Netherlands, where it also came to reflect Surinamese identity. The dish serves as a way to explore integration and relationships between Western and ethnic cuisines. ...

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6. Redefining and Re-presenting Minor Millets in South India

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pp. 109-132

When agricultural priorities and technologies change, historically important crops can become marginalized in the foodscape. Such processes can contribute to a loss of agricultural biodiversity as well as changes to local dietary and culinary practices. After India embraced Green Revolution crops and technologies, beginning in the mid-1960s, ...

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7. Developing Cheese at the Foot of the Alps

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pp. 133-155

Visiting international food exhibitions such as Turin’s Slow Food Salon or the website of the forthcoming Milan’s 2015 Expo (whose theme is Feeding the Planet) one witnesses the importance and timeliness of the issue of reimagining food. While developing countries seek to revalue marginalized food production, ...

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Conclusions: Culture, Tradition, and Political Economy

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pp. 156-166

This conclusion identifies several theoretical themes running through the previous chapters and suggests some directions for future research on marginal foods. Why does the study of marginalized foods matter? As the chapters in this volume demonstrate, many marginal foods are or were central to subsistence strategies. ...

About the Contributors

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pp. 167-170


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pp. 171-175

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599738
E-ISBN-10: 0816599734
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816502363
Print-ISBN-10: 0816502366

Page Count: 183
Illustrations: 9 photos, 2 line art, 1 table
Publication Year: 2012