R. Kenji Tierney and Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney
Food is an important indicator of social differentiation, which defines the boundaries between social groups, and social hierarchy, which entails class, status, and power inequality. Because food is a basic element of material culture and social life, it has occupied a central place in the discipline of anthropology from its earliest days. Anthropologists view food and foodways as tools with which to understand individual cultures and societies, especially when they are situated in the context of global and historical flows and connections. Ethnography, the methodology used by anthropologists and by some other social scientists, relies on a holistic and empathetic approach based on lived experience among the people being studied. Anthropologists have long been interested in commensality as both a source and an expression of group identities. Another way to probe sociality is to analyze gifts and manners.
Nationalism is usually conceived of as a state-oriented political project. There has been much less scholarly focus on nationalists whose primary aim is the formation of national communities. In this chapter I argue that we need to give more attention to cultural nationalist movements that precede or accompany state-oriented nationalisms. Originating amongst historicist intellectuals, these movements may develop into significant ethno-historical ‘revivals’ promoting a national language, literature and the arts, educational activities, and economic self-help. Such activities have often been dismissed as surrogate politics, as socially reactionary, and as transient phenomena that fade after independence. I will argue that their goal is not so much political (that is, state-seeking) as the formation of a moral community, promoted through the idiom of regeneration, that these movements are socially innovative, and that they recur periodically even after independence has been achieved, seeking to redefine the identity of political communities. The focus of this chapter will be on the history of such movements.
The study of food essentially deals with the interrelationships between the social and cultural worlds of humans and the zoological and physical worlds of climate and ecology. This article examines the debates over food as they have developed within geography in both the English- and French-speaking worlds, particularly in light of the recent interest in food studies both within academia and in the public sphere. Geographers, known for their disciplinary focus on the spatial element of human life, tend to conceptualize foodways in fluid relation to place. This article first discusses global and transnational food scales, before turning to national and regional food scales as well as food consumption at the urban and domestic scales. The article also explores geography's engagement with agriculture, animal husbandry, and rural food production and distribution networks.
This chapter approaches nationalism from the point of view of everyday life. This line of analysis owes a great deal to Michael Billig’s work and has the advantage of emphasizing the forms of interactions at the heart of societies which shape national identifications. Far from being only the reflection of an ideology produced by intellectuals or the mechanical result of an instrumental and manipulative policy pursued by political elites, banal nationalism results from a series of social micro-processes of identification that historically lead individuals to identify themselves with the nation in the same way that they feel they are members of other, often closer, human groups. For such an abstract process of identification to happen, national allegiance has to become banal, made concrete—through architecture, music, sport, media, or popular literature—so that individuals make it their own, often unknowingly and sometimes unwillingly. From that perspective, the historical formation of the state, the construction of national unity, and the assertion of national civic identity are the result of a complex to-and-fro movement, which dates back several centuries, between the political and the social, state, and society.
Peter van der Veer
Both nationalism and religion are transformations of pre-modern traditions and identities. Religion is nationalized in modern times. Religions are made a part of national identity and histories of religious conflict have to be tailored to fit a tale of national unity. Besides nationalized religion we find secular nationalism as well as explicitly religious nationalism in the modern period. There are crucial differences between states in terms of their relative secularity in the fields of law and governance, but also crucial differences between societies in terms of their relative secularity in fields of religious organization and religious practices. These differences between states and societies are not evenly mapped onto each other. Nationalism and religion are intimately connected to processes of globalization. The emergence of the universal category of ‘religion’ and ‘world religion’ is a product of the imperial encounter. The modern forms of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Taoism and their relations with national identity are all produced in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Sierra Clark Burnett and Krishnendu Ray
The study of food, an area associated with domesticity and women's work, has been neglected in sociology for decades. Folklorists and anthropologists in the past already recognized the importance of food in the development of cultures, religions, group dynamics, symbolism, communication, and other sources of meaning in human life. Sociologists, however, have been reluctant to focus on food. Even today, when food is already a major component of studies of class and stratification, labor, and consumption, there is little sociological work dedicated to food. Before discussing the merits of food studies in general and its lessons for sociology in particular, this article provides an overview of the discipline of sociology, its theories and methods, strengths and limitations that have been adapted to the study of food.