CULTIVATING COMIDA: Finding Comida in Our Everyday Lives
As a professor, I am convinced that tinkering with a course syllabus is one of the best parts of the job. Each semester (admittedly, sometimes just a few days before it starts), redesigning the outline of required texts, assignments, and course expectations gives me a thrill that few other academic obligations do. This routine yet incredibly creative task allows me to stay up-to-date on the latest research, return to the classics, and consider what this generation of students must know about the anthropology of food. Over the course of ten years, from the time I was a graduate student to my current faculty position, I have had the pleasure of teaching various iterations of a class on Food and Culture. This class has ranged from a summer seminar of just 20 students to a large lecture of over 100, and from the University of Washington campus in urban Seattle to the University of Vermont, located in a state where we joke that cows outnumber people. Across these differences of time and geography, the ever-changing developments in the international movements for food justice, food sovereignty, and local food systems have provided a compelling framework for contemplating the meaning of food and our relationship to it. From the time of Mary Douglas and Marvin Harris arguing over the symbolic and ecological foundations for the pork taboo in Islamic and Jewish traditions to considering how LGBTQ rights intersects with food politics, the academic treatment of food is rarely dull....
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