From Multi-Sited Ethnography to Food Heritage: What Theoretical and Methodological Challenges for Anthropology?

Keywords: Latin America, food heritage, tourism, development, multi-sited ethnography

Abstract

Through three Latin American examples, the paradigmatic notion of “multi-sited ethnography” is put to the test in relation to food heritage. After recalling its cultural and historical antecedents in Europe and Latin America, a first set of tensions between “institutionalized heritage” and “ordinary heritage” are analyzed. The phenomena of contestation (Bolivia) that food heritage produces among the most modest populations shows that the wide range of its meanings and uses depend on the context and local issues. Consequently, the potentially contentious relationships between various actors within heritage, gastronomic tourism, and development are highlighted. For this purpose, the example of “female traditional cooks” and “gastronomic routes” in Mexico is used as a starting point. Through these examples, the advantages and limitations of the multi-sited approach and its implications for ethnographic work on food heritage are discussed. Specifically, emphasis is put on the conditions of its implementation by revisiting how it differs from the comparative approach, transnationalization and “glocal” analysis. Finally, some theoretical and methodological avenues for further exploration in the critical anthropology of food heritagization are suggested.

Author Biography

Charles-Édouard de Suremain, Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS)-Mexico

Anthropologist, Mixed Research Unit UMR 208 “Local Heritage, Environment & Globalisation” (IRD-MNHN); Affiliated with CIESAS- CDMX Unit (Mexico).

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Published
2019-12-31