Course code:



I - Introductory

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Every other year

Food is inextricably linked to cultural systems. Indeed, the agricultural anthropologist Robert Rhoades wrote that “few realms of human life touch more components of culture—technological, economic, political, social and religious—than agriculture and its products.” This course uses food as a tool with which to explore human origins, cultural diversity, social structure, and human/environment interactions. Through academic articles and films, the course aims to expose students to the different ways in which anthropologists think about food and how they use different anthropological frameworks to answer questions concerning the human experience. The course will also engage other disciplinary perspectives such as those from history, economics, and political ecology so as to make larger connections between food and society. These perspectives will help foster students’ understanding of the ways in which social, political, and economic processes shape our interactions with food. Designed as a survey course to introduce students to the broad and dynamic subfield of food anthropology, the course is organized around four themes. The first theme—human origins, diets, and biocultural evolution—explores the uniqueness of cooking to the human species, and how the evolution of human diets and culture has shaped different groups’ dietary needs and restrictions. The second theme—globalization and international trade—looks at the flow of foods and food practices around the world, from sugar to sushi. The third theme—hegemony and difference—considers the ways in which race, gender, and class are constructed and expressed through food. The final theme—consumption and embodiment—considers the relationship between eating and the body; readings in this section focus on body image, eating practices, and critical studies of the rhetoric around obesity. Students will be evaluated based on class participation, a recipe analysis, a dietary analysis, and a final class project. The final project will be a shared meal. As a class students will develop a menu including dishes that represent regional food traditions and students’ individual backgrounds. Students will then form small groups and select a dish to prepare. They will work with staff at Blair Dining Hall to prepare their dishes and present their meal.



Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.