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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellows' Seminar - “When the Numbers Prosper, the People Suffer”: Robust Food Cultures, Tacit Knowledge and the Abstractions of Contemporary Neoliberal Culture

29th October 2018, 13:00 to 14:00, Seminar Room, Institute of Advanced Study, Professor David Sutton (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale)


This paper explores the challenges of our contemporary food practices in relation the concepts of sensory and social embeddedness and disembeddedness. Arguing for a gustemological, or food-centered worldview, Professor David Sutton explores some of the ways that our cooking and eating is in communities of social practices and collective memory, and how these may come under threat from processes of abstraction by which something is removed “from the social and practical contexts in which it previously existed” (Carrier 1998). Numbers, and accounting or audit practices of various kinds are often seen as key symbols of this abstraction process, and thus food vs. numbers becomes good to think about contemporary politico-economic processes. This talk will draw from his ethnographic research in Greece and from consideration of two mid-century thinkers/brothers Karl and Michael Polanyi to think about the relationship of economics and society and the concept of “tacit knowledge.” He hopes to show how food is deeply embedded in local contexts that may not be easily transferable, commodifiable or manipulable in a scientific laboratory.

Places are limited
and so any academic colleagues or students interested in attending a seminar should register online in advance to reserve a place. Places will be confirmed within 48 hours of receipt (subject to availability). Alternatively please contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

Contact for more information about this event.