Cultural and Biological Perspectives
By Andrea Wiley
Routledge – 2011 – 134 pages
Routledge – 2011 – 134 pages
Written explicitly for undergraduates, Re-imagining Milk demonstrates how a particular commodity can be used to illustrate ethnocentric beliefs about the universal goodness of milk; biological variation in human populations; political and economic processes that inform dietary policies, nutrition education, and current trends in globalization; the utility of a biocultural approach to the study of food; the cultural construction of a commodity that is consumed by many students on a daily basis, or if not, certainly is one that students "know" they "should" consume daily.
"It is the best general-interest introduction I've seen to the seldom-understood events that have urged milk-drinking as a nutritional duty on literally billions of people around the globe since the late 1890s."—Anne Mendelson, Gastronomica
"Andrea Wiley's highly readable analysis of milk is a biocultural approach to anthropology that illustrates insights gained from integrating cultural, political, economic, and biological perspectives. Readers will come away with an understanding of milk and its consumption that moves from the genetic to the societal level."—Craig Hadley, Anthropology, Emory University
"Andrea Wiley’s critical insights into a commodity that is central to U.S. identity, shapes food ideologies and consumption practices across the globe, and is built on the flawed bio-ethnocentric notion of milk as 'natures’ perfect food.' This interesting and accessible text is perfect for use in my courses on contemporary human variation and food politics!"—Deborah L. Crooks, Anthropology, University of Kentucky
"Professors of introductory cultural anthropology are always searching for ways to make anthropology stimulating and relevant for students….Routledge has embarked on a parallel series of short monographs ('Series for Creative Teaching and Learning in Anthropology') that takes a fresh approach, provocatively described as "The Anthropology of Stuff." These first two books provide promising beginnings to the series, affirming anthropology as the study of people and the everyday "stuff" that surrounds us. Wiley (Indiana Univ.) accomplishes the task admirably. Her biocultural approach surveys the physiology of cow's milk consumption by humans, the history of milk drinking in Europe and the US, and the globalization of milk promotion, in particular for childhood growth. Reminiscent of Sidney Mintz's pathbreaking contribution to food studies, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (CH, Oct'85), both monographs share an overall framework of anthropology that embeds historical and ethnographic details within critical perspectives. The results are illuminating and memorable."—C. R. Yano, University of Hawaii, Recommended title, CHOICE
"Re-imagining Milk joins a growing number of books that explore food consumption from social scientific perspectives, providing a sound introduction to a single (yet complex) commodity case study ideal for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students. As interdisciplinary scholarly interests in ‘‘food studies’’ expand, Wiley’s book is a welcome contribution that explores how social, political, and economic forces interact with the biology of a commonly consumed food product."- Contemporary Sociology 2012 41: 394
1. Introduction: On the "specialness" of milk 2. Population variation in milk digestion and dietary policy 3. A Brief History of Milk Consumption: Europe and the U.S. 4. Milk consumption, calcium, and child growth 5. Growing children around the world: the globalization of childhood milk consumption 6. Conclusion
Andrea S. Wiley is Professor of Anthropology and Director of Human Biology at Indiana University, Bloomington. She has conducted long-term field research in India. Her previous works include An Ecology of High Altitude Infancy and Medical Anthropology: A Biocultural Perspective (with John Allen).