Eating Traditional Food: Politics, identity and practices, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Eating Traditional Food

Politics, identity and practices, 1st Edition

Edited by Brigitte Sebastia


226 pages | 21 B/W Illus.

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Due to its centrality in human activities, food is a meaningful object that necessarily participates in any cultural, social and ideological construction and its qualification as 'traditional' is a politically laden value. This book demonstrates that traditionality as attributed to foods goes beyond the notions of heritage and authenticity under which it is commonly formulated.

Through a series of case studies from a global range of cultural and geographical areas, the book explores a variety of contexts to reveal the complexity behind the attribution of the term 'traditional' to food. In particular, the volume demonstrates that the definitions put forward by programmes such as TRUEFOOD and EuroFIR (and subsequently adopted by organisations including FAO), which have analysed the perception of traditional foods by individuals, do not adequately reflect this complexity. The concept of tradition being deeply ingrained culturally, socially, politically and ideologically, traditional foods resist any single definition.

Chapters analyse the processes of valorisation, instrumentalisation and reinvention at stake in the construction and representation of a food as traditional. Overall the book offers fresh perspectives on topics including definition and regulation, nationalism and identity, and health and nutrition, and will be of interest to students and researchers of many disciplines including anthropology, sociology, politics and cultural studies.


"Eating Traditional Food: politics, identities and practices wrestles down the concept and practices of producing and consuming ‘traditional foods’, without falling either into the ethnocentric, nationalist, rendering of tradition, or the blanket denunciation of the very concept of tradition by critical scholars…

The authors do a great service in trying to draw the boundaries of the modern and the traditional, past and the present, community and consumer practices, to enable us to protect what comes from long duration and is widely shared from the commons without the protection of intellectual property rights, against the encroachment of private, commodified, consumer culture, undertaken primarily for profit and for social prestige." From the Foreword by Krishnendu Ray, New York University, USA and President of the Association for the Study of Food & Society

Table of Contents

1. Eating Traditional Food: Politics, Identity and Practices

Brigitte Sébastia

2. The Rediscovery of Native ‘Super-foods’ in Mexico

Esther Katz and Elena Lazos

3. Lost in Tradition: An Attempt to Go Beyond Labels, Taking Maltese Food Practices as a Primary Example

Elise Billiard

4. The Protection of Traditional Local Foods through Geographical Indications in India

Delphine Marie-Vivien

5. Are Buuz and Banš Traditional Mongolian Foods? Strategy of Appropriation and Identity Adjustment in Contemporary Mongolia

Sandrine Ruhlmann

6. "Beef is our Secret of Life": Controversial Consumption of Beef in Andhra Pradesh, India

Brigitte Sébastia

7. Modernity, Traditionalism, and the Silence Protest: The Palestinian Food Narrative in Israeli Reality Television

Liora Gvion

8. The Never-ending Reinvention of ‘Traditional Food’: Food Practices and Identity (Re)Construction among Bolivian Returnees from Argentina

Charles-Édouard de Suremain

9. What Is Healthy Diet? Some Ideas about the Construction of Healthy Food in Germany since the 19th Century

Detlef Briesen

10. Are Traditional Foods and Eating Patterns Really Good for Health? A Socio-Anthropological Inquiry into French People with Hypercholesterolaemia

Tristan Fournier

11. Eating Ayurvedic Foods: Elaboration of a Repertoire of ‘Traditional Foods’ in France

Nicolas Commune

About the Editor

Brigitte Sébastia is Researcher in Anthropology at the French Institute of Pondicherry, India.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Food, Society and the Environment

This series includes a wide range of inter-disciplinary approaches to food, society and the environment. It includes textbooks, research monographs and titles aimed at professionals, NGOs and policy-makers. Authors or editors of potential new titles should contact Hannah Ferguson, Editor ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Ecology
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General