Undergraduate Module Descriptor
ANT3014: Cultures: Food
This module descriptor refers to the 2023/4 academic year.
|Term(s) and duration|
This module will run during term 2 (11 weeks)
Dr Celia Plender (Lecturer)
|Available via distance learning|
This module introduces you to the anthropological, sociological and more broadly social scientific study of cultural forces and forms, through the means of studying food. Food is of course crucial to human existence all across the planet. Yet patterns of food production, preparation and consumption vary hugely across the planet, both today and in the past. Which foods people think are delicious and which they feel are disgusting can tell us a lot about those people, from how they organise their everyday lives to the cultural and social forces and institutions that shape them in profound ways, such as their religion and beliefs, their politics, their position in systems of social stratification, and their senses of themselves. Food is therefore an excellent way of understanding broader social and cultural issues, because food is both shaped by society and in turn comes to shape society. The course allows you to develop a broad understanding of the social and cultural dimensions of food. It familiarises you with the different types of understanding of food that have been developed over time by anthropologists, sociologists and others, ranging from more ‘materialist’ to more ‘culturalist’ approaches. The course encourages you both to apply these understandings to your own experiences, and to critically reflect upon the strengths and limitations of different approaches. Examples are given from a wide range of societies and historical periods, allowing you to compare the different ways in which food underpins social existence. Particular emphasis is put on how social factors such as ethnicity, social status, class, religion and globalization are intertwined with matters of food production and consumption.
No prior knowledge of social science perspectives is necessary. This module is suitable for both specialist and non-specialist students, and its wide-ranging outlook will appeal to students in social sciences and humanities.