Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage

1st Edition

Edited by Ronda L. Brulotte, Michael A. Di Giovine


252 pages

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Food - its cultivation, preparation and communal consumption - has long been considered a form of cultural heritage. A dynamic, living product, food creates social bonds as it simultaneously marks off and maintains cultural difference. In bringing together anthropologists, historians and other scholars of food and heritage, this volume closely examines the ways in which the cultivation, preparation, and consumption of food is used to create identity claims of 'cultural heritage' on local, regional, national and international scales. Contributors explore a range of themes, including how food is used to mark insiders and outsiders within an ethnic group; how the same food's meanings change within a particular society based on class, gender or taste; and how traditions are 'invented' for the revitalization of a community during periods of cultural pressure. Featuring case studies from Europe, Asia and the Americas, this timely volume also addresses the complex processes of classifying, designating, and valorizing food as 'terroir,' 'slow food,' or as intangible cultural heritage through UNESCO. By effectively analyzing food and foodways through the perspectives of critical heritage studies, this collection productively brings two overlapping but frequently separate theoretical frameworks into conversation.


"Edible Identities makes a valuable con-tribution to tourism studies, food studies, anthropology, history, and cultural studies and will certainly appeal to academics, activists, and lay-audiences alike. " - Bradley M. Jones, Washington University in St.Louis, Food and Foodways, Explorations in the History and Culture of Human Nourishment, April 2017

"this carefully organized and cohesive volume offers a highly readable overview, food for thought, and some tasty surprises." - Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

"This volume lays the groundwork for understanding the symbolic, economic, and political importance of food as a form of cultural heritage and provides an in-road for researchers seeking to use food as method for asking complicated questions about identity, crisis, and globalization." - Daniel Shattuck, Graduate Journal of Food Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Spring 2017)

"How can something as perishable as food become a concrete connection with the past? This imaginative and sophisticated collection of case studies shows us how cuisines can both unite and divide people, connecting daily routine meals with lofty ideals of nationality and global citizenship. It is full of convincing evidence that communities are not just imagined, they are also eaten." - Richard Wilk, Indiana University, USA

"This path-breaking collection examines cuisine and cultural heritage as they create and reinforce culinary identities across shifting planes of local, national, and transnational contexts. The essays, by leading specialists in food studies as well as by young scholars, focus on the US, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Slovenia, Spain, France, and Germany, as well as on UNESCO’s role in promoting cultural heritage movements. An appetizing world tour of culinary heritage, and a must-read for serious food specialists." - Ted Bestor, Harvard University, USA and author of Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World

"This is an excellent book. For those with an interest in food, heritage and tourism (separately and combined), it is a valuable academic text; for everyone else, it is still valuable as an important read. … The book comprises an introduction by the authors and then 14 case studies from different parts of the world: one from Asia, two from South America, three from North America and seven from Europe, as well as a chapter looking at the work of UNESCO. … What I really liked about the book was the passion and insight exhibited within each of the chapters." - Sean Beer, in Journal of Heritage Tourism

"'The unifying thread throughout the book is the paramount importance of preserving food as cultural heritage and as ancestral knowledge as a representation of the maintenance and restoration of physical, cultural, and spiritual well-being. When food rituals are properly performed, they unite us with our heritage, our community, and our planet." - Annals of Tourism Research

"I highly recommend this volume for classroom use and beyond. It is a significant contribution to scholarship in cultural studies, history, political science, anthropology, folklore, food studies, and any other field concerned with the state of the world today. It is an admirable and useful demonstration of the observation made by the editors that "Through the materiality of ethnic food and food-based experiences, complex, difficult-to-articulate problems and prejudices can find expression" (p. 9)."- Journal of Anthropological Research Lucy M. Long, Center for Food and Culture, Bowling Green, Ohio

"The essays combine to give empirical substance to the critical analysis of the politics of gastronomic authenticity…this carefully organized and cohesive volume offers a highly readable overview, food for thought, and some tasty surprises." - Michael Herzfeld Harvard University, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"This collection of essays brings together important issues of identity, ethnicity, and food culture, with many of the contributions contextualized in the light of global food tourism, cultural heritage, processes of ‘heritagization’, and questions of authenticity. From the outset, Di Giovine and Brulotte coherently and insightfully consider the fluid relationship between food and the development of ethnic identities, unpacking the role of the often discussed UNESCO ‘List’ of foods and culinary practices. Here there is consideration of the relationship between ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’, local economies, global markets, and the (re)making or (re)invention of distinctive foodways." - Martin Wood, Bath Spa University, UK, Folklore, Volume 128, 2017 - Issue 2

'Through compelling ethnographies that embark readers on a captivating journey around the world of gastronomical heritage (re)production … [and] by debunking founding myths, the book produces a deeper understanding of foodscapes as complex nodes that bridge place and culture, past and future, nostalgia and progress, and where the nature-culture relationship is articulated and history gets appropriated through the redefinition of insideness boundaries in which heritage labels become signifiers and food becomes spectacle.' - Hélène B. Ducros, University of Leicester, Gastronomica

'This collection of thoughtful and well-written essays … successfully achieves the authors’ goal of articulating food practice and its role in heritage more deeply than categories and labels. These localized examinations of the complicated interactions involved in the production, culinary processes, eating and, yes, consumerization of food provide new insights into the true complexity of examining and defining “food as cultural heritage.”' - Susan Eleuterio, Gaucher College, Journal of Folklore Research

'Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage is a must-read for all who engage in the politics of identity formation and would be of especial interest for scholars in critical heritage studies and cultural studies.' - Marcia Burrowes, The University of the West Indies, Barbados, International Journal of Intangible Heritage

'The value of this book is its ability to stimulate discussion and introduce the reader to different perspectives on food as cultural heritage. … The book is well written and edited, and can be a good addition to a library.' - Robert M. O'Halloren, East Carolina University, Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change

'This book is highly recommended for scholars in the social sciences and the humanities interested in the politics of food, identity and cultural heritage, especially in relation to local, regional, and national politics. Furthermore, its broad geographical focus makes it an ideal volume to include in introductory and advanced university courses. … This collection of essays reveals that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to food, authenticity, and identity. …[It] successfully provides a context in which to understand how the “macdonalization” and “extreme localisms” throughout the world are giving rise to novel and creative strategies to construct and transform “edible identities”'. - Ivan Sandoval Cervantes, University of Oregon, AllegraLab: Anthropology, Law, Art and World (www.alegralaboratory.net) - Special Book Symposium featuring Edible Identities

'The volume’s strengths lie in its bringing together of various heritage discourses around food and how these are each implicated in wider circles of affirmations and contestations.' - Julie Boticelli, University of East London

'I found Brulotte and Di Giovine’s book to be an exciting journey into the realm of food and heritage, politics and practices, identity and rebellion in the face of change through immigration, commodification and globalization. … I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in understanding the relationship between tradition, as a part of authenticity, and innovation, as a requisite for market differentiation, as well as the nature of constructed identity as it relates to local/global food and/or heritage tourism studies.' - Susan Slocum, George Mason University, Hospitality & Society

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: food and foodways as cultural heritage, Michael A. Di Giovine and Ronda L. Brulotte; Re-inventing a tradition of invention: entrepreneurialism as heritage in American artisan cheesemaking, Heather Paxson; Terroir in D.C.? Inventing food traditions for the nation's capital, Warren Belasco; Of cheese and ecomuseums: food as cultural heritage in the northern Italian Alps, Cristina Grasseni; Edible authenticities: heirloom vegetables and culinary heritage in Kyoto, Japan, Greg de St. Maurice; The everyday as extraordinary: revitalization, religion, and the elevation of cucina casareccia to heritage cuisine in Pietrelcina, Italy, Michael A. Di Giovine; Take the chicken out of the box: demystifying the sameness of African American culinary heritage in the U.S., Psyche Williams-Forson; Caldo De Piedra and claiming pre-Hispanic cuisine as cultural heritage, Ronda L. Brulotte and Alvin Starkman; Hallucinating the Slovenian way: the myth of Salamander Brandy, an indigenous Slovenian psychedelic drug, Miha Kozorog; Haute traditional cuisines: how UNESCO’s List of Intangible Heritage links the cosmopolitan to the local, Clare A. Sammells; Reinventing edible identities: Catalan cuisine and Barcelona’s market halls, Josep-Maria Garcia-Fuentes, Manel Guàrdia Bassols and José Luis Oyón Bañales; French chocolate as intangible cultural heritage, Susan Terrio; Daily bread, global distinction? The German bakers’ craft and cultural value-enhancement regimes, Regina F. Bendix; The Mexican and transnational lives of corn: technological, political, edible object, Erick Castellanos and Sarah Bergstresser; Cultural heritage in food activism: local and global tensions, Carole Counihan; Index.

About the Editors

Ronda L. Brulotte is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and faculty affiliate with the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico. Michael A. Di Giovine is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, and Honorary Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a member of the American Anthropological Association's Task Force on Cultural Heritage.

About the Series

Heritage, Culture and Identity

Heritage, Culture and Identity
This series explores all notions of heritage - including social and cultural heritage, the meanings of place and identity, multiculturalism, management and planning, tourism, conservation, and the built environment - at all scales from the global to the local. Although primarily geographical in orientation, it is open to other disciplines such as anthropology, history, cultural studies, planning, tourism, architecture/conservation, and local governance and cultural economics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography