Uncertain Tastes Memory, Ambivalence, and the Politics of Eating in Samburu, Northern Kenya

ISBN-10: 0520257375
ISBN-13: 9780520257375
Edition: 2009
Authors: Jon Holtzman
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Description: This richly drawn ethnography of Samburu cattle herders in northern Kenya examines the effects of an epochal shift in their basic diet-from a regimen of milk, meat, and blood to one of purchased agricultural products. In his innovative analysis, Jon  More...

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Book details

List price: $29.95
Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 296
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.880
Language: English

This richly drawn ethnography of Samburu cattle herders in northern Kenya examines the effects of an epochal shift in their basic diet-from a regimen of milk, meat, and blood to one of purchased agricultural products. In his innovative analysis, Jon D. Holtzman uses food as a way to contextualize and measure the profound changes occurring in Samburu social and material life. He shows that if Samburu reaction to the new foods is primarily negative-they are referred to disparagingly as "gray food" and "government food"-it is also deeply ambivalent. For example, the Samburu attribute a host of social maladies to these dietary changes, including selfishness and moral decay. Yet because the new foods save lives during famines, the same individuals also talk of the triumph of reason over an antiquated culture and speak enthusiastically of a better life where there is less struggle to find food. Through detailed analysis of a range of food-centered arenas,Uncertain Tastesargues that the experience of food itself-symbolic, sensuous, social, and material-is intrinsically characterized by multiple, and frequently conflicting layers.

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Orientations
Memory, Ambivalence, and Food
Food as Food
Worlds of Food
The Alimentary Structures of Samburu Life
A Samburu Gastronomy
The Calabash behind the Calabash behind the Calabash
Histories of Eating
Mixed Like a Pot of Gray Food
In a Cup of Tea
Turbid Brews
Eating Shillings
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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