Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage

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Food - its cultivation, preparation and communal consumption - has long been considered a form of cultural heritage. A dynamic, living product, food creates social bonds as it simultaneously marks off and maintains cultural difference. In bringing together anthropologists, historians and other scholars of food and heritage, this volume closely examines the ways in which the cultivation, preparation, and consumption of food is used to create identity claims of 'cultural heritage' on local, regional, national and international scales. Contributors explore a range of themes, including how food is used to mark insiders and outsiders within an ethnic group; how the same food's meanings change within a particular society based on class, gender or taste; and how traditions are 'invented' for the revitalization of a community during periods of cultural pressure. Featuring case studies from Europe, Asia and the Americas, this timely volume also addresses the complex processes of classifying, designating, and valorizing food as 'terroir,' 'slow food,' or as intangible cultural heritage through UNESCO. By effectively analyzing food and foodways through the perspectives of critical heritage studies, this collection productively brings two overlapping but frequently separate theoretical frameworks into conversation.
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About the author

Ronda L. Brulotte is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and faculty affiliate with the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico. Michael A. Di Giovine is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, and Honorary Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a member of the American Anthropological Association's Task Force on Cultural Heritage.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Apr 29, 2016
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Pages
252
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ISBN
9781317145998
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Human Geography
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Tourism today is recognized as the largest and fastest-growing industry in the world, capable of producing positive social and economic transformations especially in developing countries. Yet for UNESCO, it works in conjunction with World Heritage sites for a far more ambitious goal: to produce 'peace in the minds of men' by creating a new, global identity. Anthropologist and former tour operator Michael Di Giovine draws on ethnographic fieldwork, close policy analysis of UNESCO's major documents, and professional experiences in Southeast Asia and Europe to provide a detailed examination of UNESCO's unusual effort to harness the phenomenon of globalization and the existence of cultural diversity for the purpose of creating 'peace in the minds of men' through its World Heritage program. He convincingly argues that UNESCO's designations are not impotent political performances that lead to the commercialization of local monuments for a touristic superstructure, but instead the building blocks of a new world system, an imaginative re-ordering of the world that knows no geopolitical boundaries but exists in the individual 'minds of men.' Di Giovine terms this system the heritage-scape, a real social structure that extends unbridled across the globe, spreading its mantra of 'unity in diversity.' Written for social scientists, heritage and tourism professionals, and the educated traveler, The Heritage-scape is an insightful, detailed, and expansive look at the politics and processes, histories and structures, and rituals and symbolisms of the interrelated phenomena of tourism, historic preservation, and UNESCO's World Heritage Program in Viet Nam, Cambodia, and across the world.
Oaxaca is internationally renowned for its marketplaces and archaeological sites where tourists can buy inexpensive folk art, including replicas of archaeological treasures. Archaeologists, art historians, and museum professionals sometimes discredit this trade in “fakes” that occasionally make their way to the auction block as antiquities. Others argue that these souvenirs represent a long cultural tradition of woodcarving or clay sculpting and are “genuine” artifacts of artisanal practices that have been passed from generation to generation, allowing community members to preserve their cultural practices and make a living. Exploring the intriguing question of authenticity and its relationship to cultural forms in Oaxaca and throughout southern Mexico, Between Art and Artifact confronts an important issue that has implications well beyond the commercial realm.

Demonstrating that identity politics lies at the heart of the controversy, Ronda Brulotte provides a nuanced inquiry into what it means to present “authentic” cultural production in a state where indigenous ethnicity is part of an awkward social and racial classification system. Emphasizing the world-famous woodcarvers of Arrazola and the replica purveyors who come from the same community, Brulotte presents the ironies of an ideology that extols regional identity but shuns its artifacts as “forgeries.” Her work makes us question the authority of archaeological discourse in the face of local communities who may often see things differently. A departure from the dialogue that seeks to prove or disprove “authenticity,” Between Art and Artifact reveals itself as a commentary on the arguments themselves, and what the controversy can teach us about our shifting definitions of authority and authorship.

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