Sunday, April 15, 2007



Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce

A Problem in Historical Anthropology

Professor of History, Mills College

Friday, April 20, 4:00 PM
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley

My talk addresses chocolate, travel, and tourism, specifically the changing nature of chocolate consumption and the ways in which people traveled to obtain it. Traveling for cacao, cafés, and candy has a long history from Columbus to the contemporary consumer and chocolate plays a role, relatively minor to the 20th century, in a larger process of cultural change. The association of tourism and gastronomy is one of the oldest in history, when one considers how much travel was involved in our earliest ancestors' quests for food. Chocolate remained an item of relatively minor tourist interest until the development of milk chocolate and the lowering of sugar prices during the late nineteenth century helped produce a kind of Grand Chocolate Age during the first half of the twentieth century, from about 1915 to about 1955. Companies such as Suchard in Switzerland, Menier in France, Cadbury in England, and Hershey and Mars in the United States together helped produce the modern chocolate era. The paper concludes with an assessment of chocolate tourism today.

Professor Bertram Gordon is the author of Collaborationism in France During the Second World War (1980). He is also the author of numerous articles including "Warfare and Tourism: Paris in World War II" (Annals of Tourism Research, July 1998) and "French Cultural Tourism and the Vichy Problem" in Being Elsewhere: Tourism, Consumer Culture, and Identity in Modern Europe and North America (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001).

For more information about this event or about our ongoing colloquium series, write to or visit us at .

©2006 Tourism Studies Working Group is an advanced tourism studies research forum

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Food and Cultural Critique : Panel at CSA in Portland

Please join us FRIDAY, APRIL 20

at the
Portland, Oregon (Portland State University) April 19-21, 2007:

for a panel presentation....

Food and Cultural Critique

In recent years there has been a surge of intellectual and popular discourse surrounding practices of food and eating. Building from the interest in material culture and the critical study of everyday life, food studies has gathered increased recognition. Today, food processes, systems, and rituals are recognized as key elements in culture formation. However, just as food traverses social processes, it also crosses disciplinary boundaries complicating critical analysis. Work of food studies scholars is based predominantly within History or Anthropology departments, while new critical theoretical approaches to food and taste lag behind.

Food as a substance is mutable. It is both exterior and interior to the body, and it is a crucial and omnipresent constituent of social landscapes, as well as an important component of group identity and individual self-making. It can take on objective veil of art or commodity, or become through shared practices and commensality, a concrete adhesive is various forms of social cohesion. As a site of inquiry, food transverses the social processes of production, exchange, consumption, and waste, and allows one to study the complex interaction of these processes.

The centrality of food to cultural life implicates it in the social formations of race, class, and gender. As such, unfolding the complex meanings and messages of food and food practices requires methodological flexibility and theoretical rigor.

This panel presents new work that illustrates how cultural studies is uniquely positioned to engage the multivalent aspects of food in society. The cultural study of the edible seeks to position the ways in which food shapes desires and conceptions of value in direct consideration of the material relations of production, distribution and consumption. The critical tools used in cultural studies to analysis media and social events, can be effectively applied towards understanding the social aspects of food, taste, and scent. In each presentation, the speakers will apply cultural studies methods in order to position food as both material and non-material sign, as a substance implicated in social and technological networks, but also as a vehicle capable of carrying or deflecting non-food meanings. These critical studies into the cultural practices surrounding eating, cooking and taste, bring a new intellectual and theoretical energy and focus to food studies, moving beyond the common positioning of food as a sociologically functional apparatus. At the same time we begin to suggest where food can take us in an understanding of culture that other texts can not.

Viewing Vegetable Candidates: Food and Aesthetics on the road to the
White House

Stacy Jameson
Graduate Program in Cultural Studies
University of California, Davis

This essay makes use of aesthetic theory to consider eating in the realm of political spectacle. Food here is both something to be eaten, but it is also a component of a visual display, where by looking in itself constitutes an act of consumption. There is a growing body of research in the realm of food studies that explores the connections between food and identity. National, gender, ethnic and class distinctions are reflected through what, with whom, and how we eat. My project attempts to move beyond literal food to consider the impact of edible representations on the political imaginary.

Modern presidential campaigns take place under the watchful eye of the media. In this climate a physical performance is both a political tool and a reflection of the candidate’s habitus. Food metaphors and eating performances are ways of identifying with or critiquing the distinctions of candidates on the campaign trail. Making use of depictions from both the news media, such as Michael Dukakis’s characterization as a “vegetable plate candidate,” and popular film representations of presidential candidates, such as the satire of the doughnut and barbeque eating Bill Clinton in Primary Colors, I suggest that foodways are not merely innocent instances of everyday life on the campaign trail. Food is a means of character development, where by these men are at once eating as a means of identifying with the common man and simultaneously enacting unequal relations of power.

Building from the work of French sociologist such as Pierre Bourdieu and Roland Barthes, I will explore how food effects the aesthetic presentation of the bodies of politicians. I will analyze political spectacle as a “cuisine of advertisement,” an image to be consumed by Americans. Consumption is a multi-layered process, where images of breaking bread are in fact vehicles for consumption or rejection of presidential hopefuls.

On the Taste of Place: Positioning Terroir in Consumer Culture.

David Michalski
Graduate Program in Cultural Studies
University of California, Davis

Today’s popular geographic imagination is formed within a culture of commodities that applies geographic signifiers in its display of difference and distinction. In this essay I explore this relation between product and place by looking at wine and its cultural entailments. As a foundational commodity, wine’s long history reveals early examples of geo-branding in the form of terroir, a concept used to describe the impartment of geographical typicality to commodities. Today, terroir has become endemic to food marketing, as well as an influential structural apparatus in consumer society, even informing wider political and cultural discourse. In fact, in our era of increased social mobility and globalization, the geographic signification of commodities has become more, rather than less, pronounced.

In order to better understand the symptomatic relation between a simultaneous rise of spatial alienation and the spatial specificity increasingly assigned to commodities, I historicize various market definitions of terroir by positioning changes in the spatial representation of wine in the sciences, arts, and consumer discourses along side changes in social and economic geography. Special attention in focused on the cultural construction of viticulture areas in California, Oregon and Washington during the middle to later years of the twentieth century as these areas entered into the global fine wine market. During this period, the narratives produced by the west coast wine industry moved away from contextualizing their products within the heritage of European wine, to distinguishing them through the development of their own geographical signs of origin.

Today, this geo-branding has not only led to the rise of wine tourism, but has helped this particular form of spatial representation to become a central organizing metaphor in the ascent of commodity lifestyles. By framing the image of the commodity chain in the natural signifiers of terroir, wine marketers have actively promoted an aconceptual, pre-rational or unmediated connection between taste and place. Rather than placing the consumer closer to the products he or she consumes, geo-branding, including many simplified “locally grown” initiates foster a mythological connection between consumption and production, one that subverts abstract analysis of food systems by allowing the commodity form to determine both place and individual subjectivities.

Finally, I will contextualize the double reification of place and taste in the commodity form within the problematics of postmodern geography and aesthetics, and entertain an exit strategy that may develop from within the contradiction geo-branding posits between heritage and nature, one that wine is uniquely positioned to unfold.

Building an Empire One Cup at a Time: Cultural Meaning and Power of Starbucks Korea

Jee-Eun R. Song
Graduate Program in Cultural Studies
University of California, Davis

Contemporary globalization has undoubtedly changed the relationship between time, space, and people. In order to better understand the impact that globalized forces have on localized individuals, my paper analyzes the relationship between a global product that is unidentifiably American and its local consumers in the twenty-first century. It presents an analysis of the cultural meanings of coffee consumption in contemporary South Korea by way of a detailed case-study of Starbucks Korea. It asks, what does the proliferation of designer cafés signify regarding the political, economic, and social restructuring associated with globalization in today's Korea? It begins to address this complex question through ethnographic research, paying particular attention to the material and symbolic exchanges between the business strategies of Starbucks, especially its marketing and promotion, and the varied consumptive practices of local patrons.

Through participant observation and in-depth interviews, I explore four dimensions particular to Starbucks Korea: advertising, product development, architectural and physical space, and preferred consumption codes. The paper examines how Koreans interpret Starbucks differently depending on their gender, class, geography, education, employment and age. It examines how an array of local cultural narratives complicates our understandings of global products and globalization. To this end, I investigate 1) the product as global political text and material, 2) the local Korean elaboration of café culture and coffee consumption as simultaneously Korean and global, and 3) the tensions of Starbucks Korea as emblematic of American business. What seemed at first a risky, late-blooming industry arriving at an unlikely moment of major economic downturn has since emerged atop a thriving consumer market. I argue that this rapid expansion has been achieved through careful business planning and the delicate coordination of favorable trade policies, a slew of supporting success stories and popular literature, and the promotion of consumption habits through mass media and electronic communication technologies, especially among youth, students, and the new middle class.

The Vegetarian's Dilemma: To eat or not to eat?

Laura Hudson
Graduate Program in Cultural Studies
University of California, Davis

Many resistant or alternative foodways seek to change the interaction between humans and the natural world, favoring a more spiritual, eco-centric relationship with the earth, but this is particularly problematic for those who follow a vegan diet. In his recent book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan suggests that the benefits of omnivory create their own difficulties, such as the dilemma concerning what to eat, or what is good to eat. For human omnivores, this question includes not only practical questions of edibility, but also moral questions of justice and equality. While vegetarians may resolve these questions by deciding that meat is emphatically not good to eat, this denial does not resolve the difficulty for once and for all. For if it is wrong for us to inflict suffering on animals merely for our own pleasure in eating them, what are we to make of the predation, death and decay that occurs in what we still nostalgically call "the wild?"

The anxiety produced by predation leads some animal advocates to propose “veganizing” carnivorous companion animals, or instituting spay and neuter programs to combat deer or rabbit overpopulation, or, in extreme cases, doing away with carnivores altogether; but there is no widespread consensus on what measures should be taken to ensure neither prey animals nor predators suffer in the wild. This paper will address the various methods employed by animal advocates to address predation in animal rights theory and literature, how these methods jibe with the constraints imposed by ecological and agricultural systems, or, problematically, whether they are compatible with vegetarianism's philosophical tenets.

Furthermore, I will look at the difficulty of separating the conceptual violence of the confrontation with "the other," and the actual violence of modern industrial agriculture. If the impetus of vegetarianism is located in the desire to end suffering, is it a doctrine of perfectability, or a resistance to the cruelness of a world organized around the principles of individual profit at the expense of animals and the natural world? Is vegetarianism a form of radical political protest, or a quest for individual purity in an impure world?

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