Anthropology of food is a sub-discipline of anthropology that connects an ethnographic and historical perspective with contemporary social issues in food production and consumption systems.

Although early anthropological accounts often dealt with cooking and eating as part of ritual or daily life, food was rarely regarded as the central point of academic focus. This changed in the later half of the 20th century, when foundational work by Mary Douglas, Marvin Harris, Arjun Appadurai, Jack Goody, and Sidney Mintz cemented the study of food as a key insight into modern social life.[1] Mintz is known as the "Father of food anthropology"[2] for his work Sweetness and Power (1985),[3] which linked British demand for sugar with the creation of empire and exploitative industrial labor conditions.

Research has traced the material and symbolic importance of food, as well as how they intersect.[4] Examples of ongoing themes are food as a form of differentiation,[5] commensality, and food's role in industrialization and globalizing labor and commodity chains.

Several related and interdisciplinary academic programs exist in the US and UK[6] (listed under Food studies institutions).

"Anthropology of food" is also the name of a scientific journal dedicated to a social analysis of food practices and representations. Created in 1999 (first issue published in 2001), it is multilingual (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese). It is OpenAccess, and accessible through the portal OpenEdition Journals. It complies with academic standards for scientific journals (double-blind peer-review). It publishes a majority of papers in social anthropology, but is also open to contributions from historians, geographers, philosophers, economists. The first issues published include:

Special issues (from thematic workshops) include:

See also


  1. ^ Klein and Watson (2016). The Handbook of Food and Anthropology. ]Bloomsbury Academic. p. 3. ISBN 9780857855947.
  2. ^ Roberts, Sam. "Sidney Mintz, Father of Food Anthropology, dies at 93". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Mintz, Sidney (1985). Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. ISBN 0140092331.
  4. ^ Pilcher, Jeremy (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Food History. ISBN 9780199729937.
  5. ^ Bourdieu, Pierre (1984). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Routledge. ISBN 0-674-21277-0.
  6. ^ "Food Studies Programs".