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Social Anthropology: Events


Digesting Culture: Russian Projects of State Fortification and Bionational Citizenship

Digesting Culture: Russian Projects of State Fortification and Bionational Citizenship
Speaker: Professor Melissa L. Caldwell # University of California, Santa Cruz
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Date and Time
8th Feb 2019 15:00 - 8th Feb 2019 17:00
Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building

During the communist period, Soviet officials emphasized the power of food in their projects to encourage appropriate political sensibilities and attain cultural progress. From new industrial food systems to public catering, and from culinary multiculturalism to modernist cuisine, Soviet consumers were promised that communist food practices would bring about higher standards of living, greater opportunities for pleasure and leisure, and healthier citizens and communities. Yet the gaze and reach of the state extended beyond the tables and shelves where foods were prepared, presented, and consumed, and into the most intimate spaces of citizens’ bodies. Nutritional recommendations, childrearing manuals, and community-oriented feeding regimes represented the state’s efforts to transform socialist values into visceral, corporeal, and even physiological phenomena. Today, efforts to fortify the Russian state through forms of bionational citizenship continue as state officials and consumers alike pursue new civic nutrition regimes. In this talk, I will examine Russian efforts to create a strong and robust nation through the fortification of its most intimate boundaries – that of the stomach and the guts. 

Melissa L. Caldwell is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her ethnographic research in Russia focuses on the entanglement of political systems in the most ordinary spaces and dimensions of people’s lives, with particular attention to food cultures. She has written on fast food and globalization, food nationalism, culinary tourism, gardening and natural foods, food insecurity, and food relief programs. Her publications include Living Faithfully in an Unjust World: Compassionate Care in Russia, Dacha Idylls: Living Organically in Russia’s Countryside, Not by Bread Alone: Social Support in the New Russia, and the edited volumes Food & Everyday Life in the Postsocialist World, Ethical Eating in the Postsocialist and Socialist World (with Jakob Klein and Yuson Jung), and Moral Foods: The Construction of Nutrition and Health in Modern Asia (with Angela Leung). Her new research examines the social justice dimensions of hacking, with particular attention to the work of food hackers and DIYers.

All are welcome to attend this event to celebrate the career of Professor Francesca Bray on the occasion of her retirement. The seminar will be followed by a drinks reception in the foyer of Chrystal Macmillan Building.

Freshers 2013