anthropology writing essay -01

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Question Description

Writing requirement:

Various articles this week have posited that gender is a cultural construction. This week's discussion will be divided into three parts. First, in one paragraph need to state your agreement or disagreement with gender as a cultural construction different than biological sex. In the following paragraph you should describe how gender is or isn't constructed or performed. This paragraph must be supported using two readings. In the next paragraph you need to describe how masculine norms are upheld through the ideal of science. You must also use two readings for this paragraph. You need to cite the readings according to your discipline including the last name of the author and page number of the edited volume we are reading. For example, (Counihan, 183). Finish with a short concluding statement.

In summary, please construct three paragraphs. The first on your agreement or disagreement over gender as a cultural construct separate from biology. No readings have to be cited here. Next you need to describe using two readings how gender is constructed (or isn't if you decided that gender isn't a cultural construct). The next paragraph should describe how science and constructions of masculinity are related using citations from two readings. The final paragraph can be short but should include a statement of your argument and supporting evidence.


Here is all this week's reading. No outside resources needed!!!! only use the resources that I provided.

“The Overcooked and Underdone” –T.J.M. Holden. FCR 119-137.“Domestic Divo?”

–Rebecca Swenson. FCR 137-153.“Japanese Mothers and Obentos”

–Anne Allison. FCR 154-172.

“Mexicanas’ Food Voice and Differential Consciousness” –

Carole Counihan. FCR 173-186.

“Feeding Hard Bodies”

–Fabio Parasecoli. FCR 284-298.

“Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption”

–Roland Barthes. FCR 23-30.“Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgmentof Taste”

–Pierre Bourdieu. FCR 31-39.“On the Move for Food”

–Deborah Barndt. FCR 472-484. “The Political Economy of Obesity”

–Alice Julier. FCR. 546-563.“Want Amid Plenty” –

Janet Poppendieck. FCR 563-571.


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Hegemony and Difference: Race, Class and Gender 9 More than Just the “Big Piece of Chicken”: The Power of Race, Class, and Food in American Consciousness Psyche Williams-Forson 10 The Overcooked and Underdone: Masculinities in Japanese Food Programming T.J.M. Holden 11 Domestic Divo? Televised Treatments of Masculinity, Femininity, and Food Rebecca Swenson Copyright © 2012. Routledge. All rights reserved. 12 Japanese Mothers and Obentōs: The Lunch-Box as Ideological State Apparatus Anne Allison 13 Mexicanas’ Food Voice and Differential Consciousness in the San Luis Valley of Colorado Carole Counihan 14 Feeding Lesbigay Families Christopher Carrington 15 Thinking Race Through Corporeal Feminist Theory: Divisions and Intimacies at the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market Rachel Slocum 16 The Raw and the Rotten: Punk Cuisine Dylan Clark Food and Culture : A Reader, edited by Carole Counihan, et al., Routledge, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uoregon/detail.action?docID=1097808. Created from uoregon on 2018-10-21 19:08:42. Copyright © 2012. Routledge. All rights reserved. Food and Culture : A Reader, edited by Carole Counihan, et al., Routledge, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uoregon/detail.action?docID=1097808. Created from uoregon on 2018-10-21 19:08:42. 9 More than Just the “Big Piece of Chicken”: The Power of Race, Class, and Food in American Consciousness* Psyche Williams-Forson Copyright © 2012. Routledge. All rights reserved. In 1999 HBO premiered Chris Rock’s stand-up comedy routine Bigger and Blacker. One of the jokes deals with what Rock humorously calls the “big piece of chicken.”1 Using wit, Chris Rock delivers a semi-serious treatise on parenting and marriage. First, he admonishes the audience for not recognizing that “a real daddy” receives little praise for “making the world a better place . . .” A man, or “daddy”, according to Rock, pays bills, provides food, and all of a family’s other necessities. Despite his efforts, he rarely receives any praise for his “accomplishments.” Although these tasks are clearly part and parcel of adult responsibilities, Rock ignores this truism in an effort to set up his commentary on the intersection of race, class, gender, and food. Continuing, he argues, “Nobody appreciates daddy . . .” By way of illustrating why a father needs and deserves such concern Rock points out that fathers work hard all day fighting against the stresses of life. Then a father— particularly an African American father—comes home to more stress: And what does daddy get for all his work? The big piece of chicken. That’s all daddy get is the big piece of chicken. That’s right. And some women don’t want to give up the big piece of chicken. Who the fuck is you to keep the big piece of chicken? How dare you keep the big piece of chicken! A man can’t work for 12 hours and come home to a wing! When I was a kid, my momma [would] lose her mind if one of us ate the big piece of chicken by accident. “What the fuck? You ate the big piece of chicken. Oh Lawd, no, no, no! Now I got to take some chicken and sew it up. Shit! Give me two wings and a poke chop. Daddy’ll never know the difference.”2 Chris Rock’s kind of humor has an extensive history as a form of black expressive culture. Physically, he walks back and forth on stage, bobbing and weaving as he shares different versions of his comic narrations, turning out stories from “everyday conversational talk.”3 Rock uses this form of performance or narrativizing to wage social commentary on a variety of issues including stereotypes of black people and chicken. When an artist uses stereotypes there are a number of factors that have to be considered including the purposes to which such oversimplifications are put. * Originally published 2008 Food and Culture : A Reader, edited by Carole Counihan, et al., Routledge, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uoregon/detail.action?docID=1097808. Created from uoregon on 2018-10-21 19:08:42. 108 Psyche Williams-Forson Stated more plainly, the humor of Chris Rock makes us wonder about the subversive ways in which objects like food can be used to contest hegemonic representations of blackness and the ways in which performances of blackness reveal complicated aspects of identity. Copyright © 2012. Routledge. All rights reserved. Investigating Intersections As more or less correctly stated, there are roughly two methodological schools of thought when talking about African American foodways. There are those that focus on the food itself and its connections to the African Diaspora. Among them are historians of the American South (e.g., Karen Hess, Joe Gray Taylor and Sam Hilliard) and African American studies (e.g., Tracy Poe and Robert Hall), archeologists (e.g., Theresa Singleton and Anne Yentsch), geographer Judith Carney, anthropologist Tony Whitehead, and independent foodways scholars (e.g., Jessica Harris, Howard Paige, Joyce White, and Diane Spivey). Those who focus generally on the intersections of food and identity, representation, and/or contestation are literary scholars Anne Bower, Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Doris Witt, and Rafia Zafar, sociologist William Whit, anthropologist Charles Joyner, and folklorist Patricia Turner; media specialist Marilyn Kern-Foxworth, and historians Kenneth Goings and M. M. Manring.4 My research into the realm of African American foods is not only about locating, identifying, and understanding the connections between foods but also the people who consume them. This approach goes beyond the theories that argue we are what we eat and the ways our foods reflect our cultural identity. Rather, the method I employ asks us to consider what we learn about African American life and culture by studying the intersections of food, gender, race, class, and power. How do African American historical, socioeconomic, and political spaces influence the foods that are consumed? How is this consumption a part of the performance of black class? Further-more, what do we learn about African Americans when black people willingly engage in perpetuating the oversimplified images or ideas that are sometimes held by the larger American society? Black people have long been engaged in ideological warfare involving food, race, and identity. Most commonly known are the stereotypes concerning black people’s consumption of fried chicken and watermelon. Though these stereotypes have been around for centuries they are still pervasive in the contemporary American psyche. Consider, for instance, the numerous postcards, invitations, and other ephemera that illustrate African American men, women, and children with watermelon. Black feminist scholar Patricia Hill Collins suggests the need to be attuned to the ways in which processes of power underlie social interactions and are involved in the process of external definition. These definitions can be challenged, however, through the process of “self-definition.” The acts of “challenging the political knowledgevalidation process that result[s] in externally defined stereotypical images . . . can be unconscious or conscious acts of resistance.”5 One engages in the process of selfdefinition by identifying, utilizing, and more importantly, redefining symbols—like chicken or watermelon—that are commonly affiliated with African Americans. By doing this, black people refuse to allow the wider American culture to dictate Food and Culture : A Reader, edited by Carole Counihan, et al., Routledge, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uoregon/detail.action?docID=1097808. Created from uoregon on 2018-10-21 19:08:42. More than Just the “Big Piece of Chicken” 109 what represents their expressive culture and thereby what represents blackness. But this process of defining one’s self is fraught with complications and complexities particularly if the group fails to understand or acknowledge that there is a power structure at work behind the creation of common affiliations, labels, or stereotypes. Collins explains these complications further in her delineation of self-valuation or the replacement of negative images with positive ones. This process of replacement can be equally as problematic as the original external definition if we fail to understand and to recognize the stereotype as a controlling image. This concept is perhaps best illustrated by the example of Chris Rock’s comedy that opens this essay. Though I will return to Rock’s funny side later, Collins’ caution is registered here. The exchange of one set of controlling images for another does little to eradicate the defining image itself. Consequently, black people need to be clear about the ways in which historical, social, political, and economic contexts have established reductionist narratives and how these accounts are embedded in food. One way that blacks can both deal with these narratives and gain independence from them is to begin by taking a close look at the historical basis of various food stereotypes. These stereotypes tend to be distorted portrayals of those cultural behaviors that are and have been used in order to diminish black personal and collective power. Copyright © 2012. Routledge. All rights reserved. Stereotypes Abound Stereotypes involving black people have been around for years. Indeed, they continue to exist.6 Elsewhere I argue extensively for the partial evolution of some of these stereotypes as ideologies shaped from laws and ordinances passed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.7 It was and continues to be my contention that these depictions partly emerged as a way to control the economic gains of enslaved and free men and women who bartered and traded in the marketplace. Historians often cite newspaper articles, court documents, and travelers’ accounts among other critical sources detailing information on early African and African American entrepreneurs of food. Nineteenth-century travelers’ diaries, for example, indicate “flocks of poultry [were] numerous” and, “there are very few [slaves] indeed who are denied the privilege of keeping dunghill fowls, ducks, geese, and turkeys.” Moreover, some black people would often sit by the wharf for days on end waiting to buy foods like chicken and then sell them for exorbitant prices.8 Historian Philip Morgan notes a similar practice whereby some travelers would instruct their stewards to hold in reserve various foods like bacon so they would have bartering power with “the Negroes who are the general Chicken Merchants [sic].”9 As with any encroachment, the bartering and trading by African Americans ushered in a slew of regulations that sought to limit items being sold door-to-door and in the market. To be sure the ambiguous ownership of goods prior to sale was one of the many reasons for stalling and halting the sale of goods. Foods were not supposed to be sold prior to passing through the town gates, and in particular customers were not supposed to purchase goods whose ownership might be difficult to trace. This included items such as chickens, which were often sold outside the market. Food and Culture : A Reader, edited by Carole Counihan, et al., Routledge, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uoregon/detail.action?docID=1097808. Created from uoregon on 2018-10-21 19:08:42. Copyright © 2012. Routledge. All rights reserved. 110 Psyche Williams-Forson Archeologist Anne Yentsch maintains that foods such as oysters, salted fish in large barrels or casks, cattle, sheep, and hogs that were alive could easily be traced because they were by-and-large produced by small farmers.10 Chickens, on the other hand were far harder to pinpoint. Even though several blacks had chickens their masters and neighboring farms had them as well. Sometimes these birds roamed freely and thus were traded or sold in an effort to obtain more favorable goods. Often times, especially during the colonial era, it was difficult to ascertain the exact origins of a bird. Except among the wealthy, most chickens during that time were not kept in hen houses. Chicken and fowl were free to roam finding food and shelter wherever possible, an issue that easily lends support to the charge of theft. Additionally, there was no widespread formalized system of breeding in early America when many Africans and Native Americans were engaged in bartering. Consequently, it was difficult to distinguish most common fowl from one another with the exception of certain kinds of partridges, pheasant, and hens. This reality, however, did little to hinder the accusations of theft, which were not only levied against slaves but also free blacks and fugitives. These claims were fueled by black people’s use of trading practices like forestalling, which legal ordinances did little to reduce. According to the South Carolina Gazette, one writer complained that almost on a daily basis, black women could be found huckstering and forestalling “poultry, fruit, eggs,” and other goods “in and near the Lower Market . . . from morn till night,” buying and selling what and how they pleased to obtain money for both their masters and themselves. Often times their prices were exorbitant and they would use all kinds of marketing strategies to choose which white people to sell to and for how much.11 Robert Olwell captures this point when he explains: “as slaveholders, Carolina whites felt that slaves should be generally subordinate, but as property holders and capitalists they also had to recognize the legitimacy of the market in which sellers had the right to seek the highest price for their goods.”12 Many whites viewed blacks with “great prejudice” when they sought to engage in capitalist enterprises. Under slavery’s oppression, blacks, regardless of their status, were to be subordinate at all times. Any deviation from this norm was a threat to the social order that had been systematically and institutionally constructed over time. Consequently, any element of freedom recognized and enjoyed by black people, and particularly women, was an affront to white social power. Lawrence McDonnell explains it this way: “The marketplace . . . is a neutral zone, a threshold between buyer and seller . . . . Master and slave confronted each other at the moment of exchange as bearers of commodities, stripped of social dimensions . . . [this] linked black sellers with White buyers, and hence with White society, not only by assertion of black humanity but through White objectification. Slaves appeared here equally purposeful as Whites.”13 Money and a small measure of market power assaulted the charade played out during slavery that sought to convince black people that freedom would never come. Attributing black economic gain to theft helped to perpetuate the travesty. By attributing stealing by slaves to an inherent nature rather than a condition of their circumstances (or even to a performance of sorts), slave owners were able to deflect attention from their own participation in this aspect of slave victimization. Food and Culture : A Reader, edited by Carole Counihan, et al., Routledge, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uoregon/detail.action?docID=1097808. Created from uoregon on 2018-10-21 19:08:42. Copyright © 2012. Routledge. All rights reserved. More than Just the “Big Piece of Chicken” 111 Morally, it was much better to believe that slaves were natural thieves than to believe that the institution of enslavement contributed to their larceny. Clearly there is some truth to the claim that slaves engaged in thievery; the extent to which this was the case, however, is rooted in white patriarchal ideology.14 Though devoid of a disposition toward theft, some slaves did engage in pilfering and stealing. Some scholars however, have referred to these acts as skill and cunning. Eugene Genovese’s study of African American life and culture, suggests this when he writes, “for many slaves, stealing from their own or other masters became a science and an art, employed as much for the satisfaction of outwitting Ole’ Massa as anything else.”15 In Weevils in the Wheat, for example, ex-slave Charles Grandy tells that hunger was a motivating factor for stealing food. He says, “I got so hungry I stealed chickens off de roos’ . . . . We would cook de chicken at night, eat him an’ bu’n de feathers . . . . We always had a trap in de floor fo’ de do’ to hide dese chickens in.”16 This is just one example of African American trickster heroism that not only reflects a kinship to African traditions but also views this type of behavior as both morally acceptable and necessary for survival. At the same time, it is a subversive cultural form that uses humor in its expression. John Roberts’ point about early African Americans should be registered here: “Given the desperate and oppressive circumstances under which they lived, enslaved Africans could not be overly concerned with the masters’ definition of ‘morality’ of behaviors that enhanced their prospects for physical survival and material well-being. The task that they confronted, however, was how to make such individually devised solutions to a collective problem function as a behavior strategy for the group without endangering their adaptability or the physical well-being of members of their community.”17 Although the oppressive circumstances of today are nowhere near those of enslavement, the delicate balance of performing individual behavior and yet not suffering collective consequences is still applicable. Teasing out this sense of balance and its complications might become more apparent as I discuss African American performances of stereotypes during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The South suffered a devastating loss of free labor with the end of the Civil War and migrations of newly freed blacks; it found itself in a precarious situation. Its infrastructure was suffering economically, politically, socially, culturally, and physically. Suddenly, the millions of freed blacks became an overwhelming problem. What about their rights? Would they be given rights? How and to what end? How would white Southerners keep their subordinates in line? Was this even possible anymore? These and many other questions played themselves out on the political landscapes of the day. But they were also played out on cultural playing fields as well. According to historian Kenneth Goings, the loss of control over black people registered such a blow among white Southerners that they began using emerging technology as one means of reasserting control and reclaiming power.18 Advancing technology, namely the camera, was useful for depicting African Americans—men, women, boys, and girls—as visually conciliatory. As Grant McCracken intimates, such illustrations were useful for alleviating some of the “nervous prostration” brought on by the rapid changes of the time. Goods and commodities were used in an effort to alleviate some of the distress caused by the Food and Culture : A Reader, edited by Carole Counihan, et al., Routledge, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uoregon/detail.action?docID=1097808. Created from uoregon on 2018-10-21 19:08:42. Copyright © 2012. Routledge. All rights reserved. 112 Psyche Williams-Forson social, political, economic, and cultural transformations.19 Goods were particularly useful for helping individuals contemplate the “possession of an emotional condition, a social circumstance, even an entire lifestyle” by making desires concrete.20 These illustrations, or commodities of racism, were coveted possessions. They enabled their owners not ...
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