This week’s blog will be annotations for three journal articles related to my ongoing project. The reason for this is, it will give me an idea of how to structure my article, as well as knowing who the authors are citing and the theoretical literature they draw from in relation to my research area. This will allow me to know where to situate myself within the dialogue (especially for the article from Nawpa Pacha).
Sayre, M., David Goldstein, William Whitehead, & Patrick Ryan Williams. (2012). Chicha de Molle and Huari State Consumption Practices. Nawpa Pacha 32(2):231-258.
Summary – The authors analysed macrobotanical remains from two Huari sites (Cerro Baul and Conchopata) to examine “cultural preference” in food/consumption practices. They contrast this approach to the typical one taken in the Andes (and elsewhere) of looking at style (ceramics, architecture, burial patterns), settlement patterns, and material sourcing to understand cultural preferences. To do this, they compared different sectors of the sites that were interpreted/labelled from excavation contexts (elites, administrative, and domestic). They compared the density and ubiquity of C. quinoa, S. molle, and Z. mays. Their analysis showed that chicha de molle was preferred in Huari contexts, despite the ethnohistoric data that suggested otherwise.
Structure – The article begins with an overview of how the issue of cultural preference/distinction has been addressed by previous researchers, and the theoretical reasoning behind this approach, as well as introducing how their approach actually fits nicely within this paradigm (they therefore, do not argue that past approaches were wrong, but simply that food should also be considered). In particular, they want to argue that food consumption is an indicator of cultural preference and then they introduce alcoholic drink production/consumption as a source of “human sociality and the performance of identity”. From here they move to addressing some of the archaeological evidence used to identify production/consumption of alcohol generally, as well as specifically in an Andean context. This section is very short, only about 1 page (4 paragraphs) total.
In the next section the authors discuss the Middle Horizon period, what characterized it archaeologically, and how food production and consumption have been under-researched to address insights into authoritative strategies (an area of great interest during the Middle Horizon because of reasons they outlined in the previous paragraph). This section then moves on to the significance of certain crops in the Andes, both as a food source and for their use in public rituals using archaeological and ethnohistoric accounts. Additionally, they discuss some of the properties of these plants, and their growth cycle to make the case that they are useful in the production of alcoholic beverages for feasts. In a short (1 page) section they discuss the significance of chicha de molle in Huari contexts and the context of the sites themselves (i.e. significance to the Huari settlement pattern and state organization).
The next sections are divided into the two sites analysed. The subheadings including: Site Description and Methods of Analysis, and Results. They begin with a description of excavations and the methods used to collect their samples, as well as the utility of such an approach to their research and how the results can be of benefit to other researchers in the region. In the results section, they describe which plants were the most ubiquitous and the significance of the context in which they were recovered from the site.
There are three final sections: Discussion, the presence of molle at other Andean sites, and the roles of molle in the Tiahuanaco and Huari states. Discussion is less than a page, in which the authors compare the two sites based on their results. This is then compared with the evidence of molle consumption in other Huari sites in a very brief less than 1 page overview. Finally, the authors end their article with an overview of the significance to molle consumption to the Huari and Tiahuanaco states. They argue that control and influence over maize chicha may have been a prime motivator in the expansion of the Tiahuanaco state. They leave with a call for further investigation of botanical remains to address avenues unexplored thus far.
Critical Perspective – Aside from the introduction (which was very brief) and the conclusion/discussion (which was also brief) the authors chose to focus on their results more than the interpretation. Despite their being an emphasis on cultural preference and practices of production/consumption their analysis was mainly that chicha de molle was produced and consumed by the Huari, which is a different practice than the chronicles depicted. However, the information was very clearly presented along with their methods, results, and significance to the state of the literature thus far. Therefore, the structure is quite useful since their focus is also on feasting (albeit the food rather than ceramic evidence) and their research followed a very similar approach to mine. Additionally, it was interesting to note which authors they were citing when talking about food consumption and identity which were the same or different from the ones I had drawn from in my MRP, such as Mintz (1985).
Fischler, C. (1988). Food, self and identity. Social Science Information, 27(2):275–92.
Summary – Fischler is providing an overview of the social and natural sciences approach to understanding the relationship between food and humans. He then connects these two approaches that have previously been very separate domains of study. It is hard to summarize the exact conclusions, but essentially Fischler does an excellent task of showing these two approaches are not mutually exclusive and have much to offer each other because humans are unique in being both omnivorous, therefore, requiring new/different food sources, and also social/cultural creatures.
Structure – The paper has not been set up with a clear skeleton/structure. There is no abstract to summarize the purpose of the paper, but instead Fischler goes directly into discussing the interesting relationship between food and humans, and the typical way it has been approached by the natural sciences and contrasting that with the social sciences. He does this to set up his “thesis” which is to create a more integrative approach that takes into consideration both aspects. He then gives an outline to his article, stating what he is going to talk about, in what order, which theorist he is drawing mainly from, and with an explanation for why he chose to do it this way. His voice is very explicitly clear in the introduction, he has summarized, but also criticized the work done prior and then provided his take on how to address this problem. Likewise, his explicit breakdown of how he is going to go about this makes the paper unambiguous in its intent and methods. Therefore, despite not having an abstract or the goal stated at the beginning of the paper, there is no ambiguity. This paper isn’t a review, however, he spends the majority of the paper making a connection between two different approaches that have for their history been talking past each other. Rather than end with a summary or conclusion to the article, Fischler ends by considering his analysis in our modern context. Leaving us with a visceral connection to these ideas, rather than abstract ideas of other times, places, and cultures.
Critial Perspective – The article by Fischler is very useful to my research and project because he summarized and critiques many of the ideas surrounding identity formation through food (which is integral to any analysis of feasts), but contrasts this with the biological and natural sciences approach. Therefore, I have a better sense of what is being left out of mine and other’s analysis of food by taking a very social approach. In particular, what might be motivating choices beyond just the identification of certain cuisines with a specific identity. Are these choices, at least in part, formed by preferences that are based on nutritional needs and/or hazard aversion that are formed through our biological drives? He makes a compelling connection between the nutritional understanding of a food (itself in part cultural) and identity through the example of eating red meat in our culture. Red meat is thought to give strength to the individual, even if it is on an abstract level (you don’t actually just gain strength through eating it).
Bowser, B. J., & Patton, J. Q. (2004). Domestic Spaces as Public Places: An Ethnoarchaeological Case Study of Houses, Gender, and Politics in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 11(2), 157–181.
Summary – The authors are examining domestic spaces very differently than they have been traditionally approached. Rather than separate domestic and public/politics they are looking at how political life is conducted on a daily basis within the domestic sphere. This complements research focused on gender issues, which have in the past, placed women’s role firmly within the domestic space and therefore outside of the realm of politics. In their analysis, they are looking at multiple scales of analysis including: the organization of the community, spatial relationships within the house, and the painted designs on pottery used within the household. Their findings suggest that men and women negotiate space differently in Conambo, but women’s roles are also complementary whereby they have agency to act as mediators between the two factions in the community.
Structure – The introduction to their paper is set up by framing their particular approach by contrasting what has been done previously, critiquing this approach, and setting up how their approach will be different while also addressing some of these criticisms. The next two sections provide an overview of the context, including the village and what is known of the social and political organizations, as well as how this particular village is situated within the wider regional and temporal context. They then break down the article into the three categories they have mentioned (community organization, spatial relationships in the house, and pottery designs), treating them as somewhat discrete entities for the sake of clarity and organization. In each section they analyse the potential differences in men’s and women’s spaces, along with what women’s roles were to the political sphere. There is no clear narrative, instead there is different lines of evidence that are then combined in their conclusions to talk about politics in everyday life.
Critical Perspective – The article is useful to my project because the authors discuss politics in domestic settings, which are relatable to politics in a feast (the serving of food, who is serving, who is receiving, in what space/context is it taking place). In regards to the narrative style, there does not appear to be a clear narrative, multiple lines of evidence are considered and a conclusion is drawn from this. Perhaps because the authors are only looking at a single time period, they are not looking at change over time it does not lend itself well to a story-arc. However, they do take an approach that views society as always in a process of becoming. Therefore, daily life is deeply political because it is constantly in the process of contestation and renegotiation of space, alliances, and histories. Their narrative, then, is one that does not have a beginning or an end.