Inspiration for a Start

Since I switched over to this blog, I had a vision for it. I saw it as something academic, somewhere I can share my research ideas, and somewhere to share my love of food. Even though that seemed more specific than my first blog ever was, it has still proved problematic and left me short on inspiration. I think the first step, first sentence, first word, first thought is always the hardest.

So, I am taking some advice from an awesome Gradhacker post by Andrea Zellner I read this week and I am just going to start writing.  As I continue to write and put myself out there, I know I will find the direction I want to take my blog.

Sharing books I am currently reading as part of my thesis research seemed like a great starting point. Since we all need some inspiration, I thought I’d start with an ethnography that helped me narrow my research questions.


Home Cooking in the Global Village by Richard Wilk

This book provided the inspiration to narrow what aspect of identity formation, as expressed through visual portrayals of food in popular media, I would like to analyze. After reading this great ethography, I have decided to focus on perceptions of freedom.  Wilk makes the argument that within the colonial system, food of luxury carries dignity of higher rank, so when slaves were drinking food that was normally consumed by their owners, they “literally tasted freedom” (61). Despite the slaves having better uses for the money used to purchase luxury foods (like buying their freedom), when they participated in the eating of luxury food items, they were exercising choice and taste, which according to Wilk is “fundamental to a modern concept of freedom” (61). So, despite the fact that buying into the system kept them into the system, it served as nuanced form of resistance where slaves chose self respect over freedom (Wilk 61). With this in mind, Wilk makes the argument that slave rations were the “first global diet”, comparing it to McDonald’s (63).

 So, here’s my thought: If modern tv and food narratives project “choice and taste” into their narratives, are they continuing an ideology of freedom, which can both be at odds with the global food system and complicit? Is this further complicated by the commodified aspects of those narratives? As consumers of these narratives, do they promote freedom within the identity they shape?