Food and Culture

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SeongEun Hyun (Réa)
LTCS 52
Professor Ping-Hui Liao
26 April 2013
Commentary #2
Anne Allison points out an interesting point about the relationship between food and Japanese women in her article “Japanese Mothers and Obentos: The Lunch-Box as Ideological State Apparatus”. She has insightful and different point of view of obento, a japanese lunch box which are highly crafted elaborations of food, that it is endowed with “ideological and gendered meanings” under state ideology (155). That is, both mother and child are being watched, judged, and constructed by society since making a good obento may please her child and also affirm that she is a good mother, and child consuming their entire meal in a appropriate manner is considered well-taught. This social phenomenon represents that culture is constructed with power which exerts a force which operates in ways that are subtle, disguised, and accepted as everyday social practice.

Another essay Carole Counihan’s “Mexicanas’ Food Voice and Differential Consciousness in the San Luis Valley of Colorado” uses the case of Ryubal to suggest how women can display differential consciousness through their practices and beliefs surrounding food. In society where traditional division of labor in cooking is still prevalent, a Mexican women Helen Ryubal challenged the traditional views of women and cooking by rejecting cooking, making husbands respect women who cooked, and involving husband in cooking. Her strategy not only minimized the subordinating dimensions of reproductive labor but also valued and benefited from the help of her mother, sister, and husband. Her attempt has been based on her ideologies which was developed from differential consciousness which is “a key strategy used by dominated peoples to survive demeaning and disempowering structures and ideologies” (175).

Both essays are focusing on the relationship between food and gender through each case. Allison considered obentos as a container of cultural...
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