Course Syllabus

Anthropology of Food | Section B

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2019 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 Credits

Major Disciplines:

Anthropology, Sociology, Environmental Studies

Faculty Members:

Ed Romein -

Program Director:

Neringa Vendelbo -

Program Assistant:

Shannon Schooley -

Time & Place:

Time: Monday & Thursday 13:15 -14:35 | Room: N7-B12

Course Description

Why do we drink more coffee than before? How is it that Thanksgiving is not the same without a turkey? How come we spend more time watching other people make food on television than in the kitchen preparing food ourselves? Why is it that men who prepare food are called chefs while women are called cooks? To understand what it means to eat today tells us  about the state of our world. Eating is more than sustenance. When we consume we communicate meaning that creates identities, maintains social bonds and sustains cultures. This makes eating not only a nutritional act, but also a social and cultural act. We have also become increasingly aware that it is an agricultural, environmental and ethical act.  

In this course you will get acquainted with the anthropological and sociological perspectives on the topic of food, get immersed deeply into the Scandinavian eating culture and the Nordic culinary revival and investigate the role of the city in rethinking our food systems. In between we will go out and explore Copenhagen and conduct food tastings.

Learning Objectives

The overall objective of the course is to enable students to understand the disparate social and cultural meanings of food. The course aims to endow them with a strong sense that food is more than what is served on a plate and provide them with a valuable tool-kit filled with impressions, experiences, approaches, and concepts with which they would be able to better understand the practice of eating.   

By the end of the course, students should have:
- greater knowledge of the fields of anthropology and sociology and how these disciplines approach the study of food;
- the ability to use anthropological methods of inquiry to critically reflect on the role of food in culture in cultural practice;
- expand their cross-cultural awareness, knowledge of eating cultures in general and the Scandinavian eating culture in particular;
- enhance their understanding of the evolving role of gastronomy and the role of culture in reshaping the global food system.


Ed Romein, PhD candidate (Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam). Ass. Lecturer Copenhagen Business School (International Economics & Management) Research consultant in urban development at Urban Sense Research and Advisory (2008-2012). Consultant and educator in city management and public policy at Netherlands School of Public Administration (2001-2007). M.A. Philosophy (Erasmus University Rotterdam, 2003). M.A. Art History (Leiden University, 2000), M.Sc. Economics (Erasmus University Rotterdam, 1999). With DIS since 2014.


There is no textbook for this course and most readings are found exclusively on Canvas.

Allen, John S (2012). ‘The Two-legged, large-brained, small-faced, superomnivorous ape’ In: John S. Allen The Ominivorious Mind. Our Evolving Relationship with Food. Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts 2012: pp. 40-73.

Counihan, Caroline & Penny Van Esterik (2013). Food and Culture. A Reader (Third Edition). Routledge, New York 2013.

Geertz, Clifford (1971). 'Thick Description: Towards an Interpretive Theory of Culture.' In Clifford Geertz The Interpretation of Cultures- Selected Essays. Basic Book Inc Publishers, New York 1971: pp.3-30.

Leer, Jonatan (2016). 'The rise and fall of the New Nordic Cuisine.' In Journal of Aesthetics & Culture Vol 8 no.1.

Mennell, Stephen (1985). ‘Pottages and Potlach: Eating in the Middle Ages.’ In All Manners of Food, Basil Backwell, Oxford/New York 1985: pp. 40-61.

Parkhurst-Ferguson, Priscilla (2009). ‘ A Cultural Field in the Making: Gastronomy in Nineteenth-Century France’ in Schehr & Weiss French Food. On the Table, on the Page and in French Culture, Routledge, New York: pp. 5-50.

Pinkard, Susan (2009). ‘Opulence and Misery in the Renaissance.’ In A Revolution in Taste. The Rise of French Cuisine, 1650-1800, Cambridge University Press, New York: pp. 29-47.

Scrinis, Gyorkin (2008). 'On the ideology of Nutritionism.' In Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. Vol 8 no.1 2008: pp.39-48.

Tellström, Richard (2015). ‘A Brief History of Nordic Cuisine’. in Nilsson, Magnus (2015). The Nordic Cookbook. Phaidon Press: London 2015: pp.23-33.

Trubek, Amy (2008). The Taste of Place.  University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles 2008.

Pratt, Jeffrey (2008). 'Food values: The local and the authentic' In Geert De Neve, Luetchford Peter, Jeffrey Pratt, Donald C. Wood (ed.) Hidden Hands in the Market: Ethnographies of Fair Trade, Ethical Consumption, and Corporate Social Responsibility (Research in Economic Anthropology, Volume 28) Emerald Group Publishing Limited: pp.53 - 70.

Field Studies

During the semester the two field studies will provide the possibility to explore and taste.  Further details regarding the field studies will follow at a later date. The field studies are on:

- Wednesday February 27th from 8.30 - 12.30

- Wednesday April 24th from 13.00 - 17.00

Guest Lecturers

During the course we will go out and visit locations or have speakers come and visit us. 

Approach to Teaching

The methods used to cover class materials include lectures, video, discussions, individual and group presentations, guest lectures, and field trips. Periodically we will split up into smaller groups to review and analyze the material more thoroughly. The course will have several out-of-the-class-room sessions on location to experience the different facets of food first hand. Office hours are held after class or by appointment. 

Expectations of the Students

Students are expected to come to class prepared by reading or viewing the relevant material for that class. Furthermore students are expected to be engaged and participate actively in classes and on field studies and be open minded to your fellow student’s contribution to class. Students are expected to contribute to an environment where we can learn from each other as well as from readings and experiences.


Your grade will be determined as weighted averages of the following four components:





Cultural Analysis


CPH Foodscape research project


Anthropological field notes


To be eligible for a passing grade in this class you must complete all of the assigned work.

Academic Regulations  

Use of Electronic Devices in the Classroom - Electronic devices such as laptop computers, mobile phones, tablet devices etc. are NOT allowed in class. Please be sure that all cell phones are put away and are set to “off” prior to the beginning of the class or a meeting. However, in some specific cases I may request you to use your computer or tablet for quick/ad-hoc research on the Internet. Any misuse of trust will be reflected in your engagement grade. Students who violate this policy can be requested to leave.

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

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