Fall 2006 Course Offerings

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SHUM 415 Post-national Gastroidentities

(also ANTHR 416)
Fall. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students. 
S. Ayora-Diaz. 
R 10:10-12:05

This seminar will examine the Nation-State’s attempts to govern and the citizens’ efforts to affirm the multiplicity of identities within the context of an expanding global, (post)modern, postcolonial, and post-national world. Participants will start by discussing the mechanisms whereby the State seeks to impose its power over citizens, impressing upon them a monolithic national identity and then, move to examine the fracturing effects of the global postmodern, multicultural politics that promotes the affirmation of local and regional identities, the displacement of people within the State, and international immigration as they contribute to explode national identities. In particular, we will attempt to answer the question of how food, cuisine, and gastronomy play an important part both in the strategies to instrument normalcy through the imagination of the modern Nation-State, and the ways in which discourses affirming nation, race, ethnicity, hospitality, the universality of humanity, interact with each other fragmenting the national gastronomic field and undermining the unpolluted self-understanding of the modern Nation-State. The seminar will include discussion of the writings of Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Derrida, Bhabha, Spivak, and others. It will encourage the discussion of cases from diverse nation-states to review the multiplicity of (trans)local and regional strategies that make recourse of gastronomic traditions to engage with, reject or negotiate with other groups in the context of new forms of cultural colonialism. The seminar will also encourage the discussion of the consequences of identity politics through food. 

Steffan Igor Ayora-Diaz is Professor of Anthropology at the Autonomous University of Yucatan. He has conducted ethnographic research among mountain shepherds in Sardinia, Italy; among local healers in Chiapas, Mexico; and, currently, on Yucatan’s culinary tradition and the politics of identity. He has published papers and book chapters on Sardinian cultural and sociopolitical practices, on the politics of recognition and representation of local healers in Chiapas, and on the politics of representation of Yucatecan cuisine. He published a book, in Spanish, on Chiapas’ local healers: Globalization, Knowledge and Power: Local Medicines’ Struggle for Recognition, 2002, and co-edited with Gabriela Vargas-Cetina the book Local Modernities: The Ethnography of the Multiple Present (2005), also in Spanish.