The anthropologies food issue continues! Up next we have an essay from cultural anthropologist Christy Shields-Argelès, whose current research focuses on the tasting practices of Comté cheese producers in the Jura mountains of eastern France. She is an assistant professor in the Global Communications department of the American University of Paris. You can reach her at cshields AT aup dot edu –R.A.
Anthropologists have long studied commensality as a means to gain insight into the life ways and worldviews of others. Sitting at another’s table, mastering their etiquette and incorporating their cuisine are powerful ways to encounter and learn about other societies. It is for this reason that I have long used commensal events as teaching tools in my anthropology classes at the American University of Paris. A unique institution where Anglophone students come to study in the French capital – sometimes for a semester, though more often for their entire undergraduate education – AUP provides the perfect setting for a hands-on approach to learning the practices and perspectives of the anthropologist. In this short article, I want to explore commensality, and in particular welcome meals abroad, as a site for intercultural learning. Continue reading