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Leiden anthropologists at the annual meeting of the Swiss Anthropological Association

The Scientific Commission of the Swiss Anthropological Association (SSE-SEG-SAA) convenes once a year a major conference around thematic panels. This year, the annual meeting of the SSE-SEG-SAA addressed the topic of “norms and alternatives”. Prof. dr. Cristina Grasseni and lecturer Janine Prins participated in this year's conference.

‘Norms and alternatives: experimentations with collective food procurement’

Prof. dr. Cristina Grasseni presented a key note entiteled ‘Norms and alternatives: experimentations with collective food procurement’.

Collective food procurement is a ripe sociocultural arena and allows comparison to deliver a critical theory of citizenship. To an anthropological understanding of norms and alternatives, this adds a ‘meso’ level of sociocultural analysis. Food scenarios mostly focus on the ‘macro’ scale (food systems) or on the ‘micro’ scale (individual deliberations and habituated reflexes). Methodologically, anthropological approaches can match indepth fieldwork observation with participants’ narratives, as well as using digital visual media to deliver collaborative and immersive ‘thick descriptions’ of the actor’s experiences and trajectories. Societal and local government stakeholders benefit from such comparative insights. I will draw on my ERC Consolidator project “Food citizens? Collective food procurement in European cities: solidarity and diversity, skills and scale” to sketch a potential comparison of the consequences of collective food acquisition and the effects of ‘food citizenship’ in different European cities. The anthropological focus lies on food as a mediator of sociocultural relations. Considerable attention goes to ‘smart’ urban food procurement, with little notice of the cultural diversity within Europe. For a growing urban population (80% by 2050), food is a mediator of relations within social networks, not only a commodity or nutrient. Eaters are not just consumers but social actors whose meaning-making depend on faith, gender, age, income, or kinship. How we procure and share food is thus central to cultural understandings of citizenship and of societal norms.

‘Pictures in boxes: the video in ethnographic museums (CAV)’

Lecturer Janine Prins took part in the panel ‘Pictures in boxes: the video in ethnographic museums (CAV)’, with her expertise on ‘Blending Video into a Colonial Heritage Experience’.

Further reading

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