Food Festishism in Rural Australia in Inner City Auckland

So I'm at another anthropology talk fest. Auckland University this time. There's not a lot in the conference program that interests me. It's mainly a lot of academics bleating on about cultural heritage and "identity". Issues that never cease to bore me senseless. I'm presenting tomorrow in a "development" politics panel, but am aiming to try and get to the panel entitled "Appropriating Rurals" and although I should probably be sitting in a lecture theatre on gender or LAND.

IF I'm feeling flippant I might try and get to the talk by Adrian Peace from the University of Adelaide called: "Barossa Dreaming: food, fetsivals and fetishism in rural Australia"

It is difficult to imagine a rural region of Australia more thoroughly integrated into the world economy than the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Dominated by a handful of transnational corporations, the wine industry is as thoroughly incorporated into the hegemonic system of global commodity flows as any other part of the country. It is therefore somewhat paradoxical to find that images and representations of heritage, tradition and the authentic community figure pervasively in the intense commodification of the Barossa. In this paper, I detail the representational and discursive processes by which food and festivals are fetishized to constitute the Barossa Valley as a site of nostalgic dreaming. I argue that the advent of the Slow Food movement is the latest addition to these processes. But it is equally important to recognize what is strategically omitted from view.

If I get to go I might ask him some annoying questions on why the words "global" and "hegemonic" are so often conjured in food systems "discourses" and other annoyingly nitpicky academic questions of no particular consequence.

I'm pretty keen on the whole recent anthropolgists schtick of unpicking rural food tourism in general though

I'd also like to see what this presenter has to say...perhaps I'll treat myself

Gifting the Self: the metro-rural idyll and ideal reflexive individuality


'I think I'll treat myself.' 'Go ahead, treat yourself.' 'This holiday is a treat to myself.'

These are familiar refrains that may be overheard in the cafés, craft shops, and vineyards of Martinborough - a popular weekend tourism destination for the new middle-classes of nearby Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. These narratives emphasis - personally and socially - notions of gifting the self (Howland 2008) and thus give insight into the calculated reflexive individuality of Martinborough's tourists. Specifically they highlight a reflexive awareness of the self as an object that may be subjected to self-assembly and development regimes. They also underscore an attentiveness to multiple, context-specific selves as evidenced by notions of reward or compensation of the 'working self' to the 'leisured self'. In addition, tourists routinely cast Martinborough as metro-rural idyll - an enchanted, performative setting of leisured consumption that draws upon pervasive notions of the vernacular rural idyll to provide a moral foundation for their urbane consumption activities, social distinction negotiations, and pursuit of ideal reflexive individuality.

Anthropological analysis of kinship-orientated societies often situates reciprocal gifting as the principal mode of economic exchange and vital to social integration and cohesion (Mauss 1972). By contrast, analysis of post-industrial societies often casts commodity, market-based exchange as primary and socially alienating (Carrier 1994). However, gifting the self clearly articulates the hegemonic ideologies and practices of ideal reflexive individuality and as such contributes to the reproduction of the dominant social structure of the 'second modern' (Beck 2002) - namely the institutionalisation of individualism

Peter Howland (Victoria University, Wellington)


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