Course Syllabus


Anthropology of Food | Section B

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Semester & Location:

 Fall 2020 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Anthropology, Food Studies, Sustainability

Faculty Member:

Anders Larsen - 

Program Director:

Neringa B. Vendelbo,

Time & Place:

Tuesdays & Fridays, 13.30 - 15.00,  F24-303


Description of Course

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are”.  Quite possibly the most famous words in the entire history of food-writing, that phrase,  issued by 19th-century epicure, politician, lawyer and gastronomer, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, has never been truer than it is today. Food has in the past three decades become the focus of a host of issues - everything from the industrialization of farming to the integration of immigrants - that reflect cultural, social, and even political values.  Eating is more than sustenance and enjoying the taste of it. 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. Why is it that men who prepare food are called chefs while women are called cooks? How is it that Thanksgiving is not the same without a turkey? Why do some people choose to buy a Hendricks Gin and not a Bombay Gin?

This course explores the nexus between what you eat and who you are through food cultures across the world, but by using most case studies from Europe.

The culinary traditions of Europe were shaped geography, religion, and demographics as well as major structures such as industrialization and colonialism. While vested in traditions, European cuisines have also recently shot to the forefront of the gastronomic world, producing distinctive cutting-edge cuisines such as ‘molecular gastronomy’ and ‘New Nordic’. Chefs have become celebrities and their restaurants the destination for culinary pilgrims. This course investigates how those transformations have come about, and what they have meant - culturally, economically, and even artistically - for the agents who produce and consume them.

But we will not just be exploring the world of fine dining; we will also focus on other aspects of food culture.  Entangled in the social and cultural activities of eating is also an agricultural, environmental, ethical and political act which we will discuss from an anthropological and sociological point of view, by discussing the impact of industrial agriculture and the rise of alternatives; growing concerns about the relationship between diet and public health; and the impact of immigration on cuisine (and vice versa).

During our classes, we’ll expand that exploration by talking to chefs, consumers, business people, and researchers about what Danes eat, and what it means.

In this course, you will get acquainted with the anthropological, sociological, and historical 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:

  • developed a sense of the culinary cultures of Denmark and other countries and how these relate to broader cultures;
  • enhanced understanding of food culture in their home country and other countries after using Denmark as a case model;
  • an understanding of how to analyze the role of food in forging an identity on an individual and collective levels;  
  • developed a sense of how to think critically about food as a reflection of social, political, and economic phenomena;
  • enhanced their understanding of the evolving role of gastronomy and the role of culture in reshaping a cultural identity;
  • 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.



There is no textbook for this course. All readings are found on Canvas.

Ariel, Ari, The Hummus Wars, Gastronomica. the Journal for Food Studies, Februrary 2012, Volume 12, Issue I, Univeristy of California Press 2012 

Bajc, Vida, “Tourist Gaze.” In: Dale Southerton (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture. London: Sage 2011.

Bourdieu, Piere, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Routledge 1984 (e

Danish Agriculture and Food Council: Denmark, Danish Food and Gastronomy, Copenhagen 2011 

Fischler, Claude, Food, Self, and Identity, Social Science Information 27(2), June 1988, pp. 275-292

Fox, Robin, “ Food and Eating: An Anthropological Perspective"

Ferguson, Priscilla Parkhurst, Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine, University of Chicago Press 2004

Korsmeyer, Carolyn, Delightful, Delicious, Disgusting, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (2002)

Laudan, Rachel, Birth of the Modern Diet, Scientific American 283(2):76-81, September 2000

Leer, Jonathan, The Rise and Fall of New Nordic Cuisine, Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, vol. 8:1, 2016 

Mührmann-Lund, J. (2016). Food Policing in Early Modern Danish Towns. Rural Landscapes: Society, Environment, History, 3(1): 3, 1–13

Orange, Richard, "Facist" food fight?, Public Radio International, April 8, 2012 via

Pollan, Michael, Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Penguin Press 2006

Reddy, Geetha, van Dam, Rob M., Food, culture, and identity in multicultural societies: Insights from Singapore, Appetite vol. 149, 1 June 2020

Reicher, A. Yael Raviv, Falafel Nation: cuisine and the making of National Identity in Israel. Dialectical Anthropology vol. 40, 2016 

Schösler, Hanna, de Boer, Joop & Boersma, Jan J., The Organic Food Philosophy: A Qualitative Exploration of the Practices, Values, and Beliefs of Dutch Organic Consumers Within a Cultural–Historical Frame, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics vol. 26, pp. 439-460, 2013

Seremetakis, C. Nadia, Senses Still,  The Memory of the senses, Part 1: Marks of the Transitory, University of Chicago Press, 1996

Swinbank, Vicki A., The Sexual Politics of Cooking: A Feminist Analysis of Culinary Hierachy in western Culture, Journal of Historical Sociology vol. 15 no. 4, december 2002

Taylor, Chloe, Faucault and the Ethics of Eating, Foucault Studies, No. 9, pp. 71-88, September 2010

Tjørnhøj-Thomsen and Ploug Hansen (2015). "Managing Uncertainties, Gaining Control: The Magic of Foods and Words" in Steffen, V., Jöhncke, S., & Raahauge, K. M. (red.) (2015). Between Magic and Rationality (eds. Jöhncke, Steffen, Vibeke Steffen & Kirsten Marie Raahauge): On the limits of reason in the modern world. (Critical Anthropology udg.) København: Museum Tusculanum. (Critical Anthropology, Vol. 4). 

Trubec, Amy B., The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey into Terroir, University of California Press 2008

Veblen, Thorstein, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study in the Evolution of Institutions, Chapter IV: Conspicous Consumption, Dover Publications Inc. 1899

Wallace, David Foster, Consider the Lobster, Gourmet, August 2004 


Field Studies

  • 7 October 1:00-5:00 - Tour of Refshaleøen and visit to Impirical Spirits
  • 18 November 8:30-12:30 - Workshop with In Futurum
  • 20 November 1:45-2.45 - Visit to Kitchen Collective/Copenhagen Food Space
  • 24 November - Visit to Send Flere Krydderier 


Guest Lectures

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

  • Ian Samuel Terkildsen, DIS Study Abroad in Scandinavia
  • Sophia Schuff, Gehl Architects 
  • Frederik Larsen, In Futurum
  • Mia Maja Hansson, CPH Food Space/Kitchen Collective 



Wine tasting with Ian Samuel Terkildsen

Workshop on foodscapes in modern cities with Sophia Schuff from Gehl Architects 

Workshop with Frederik larsen, Ph.D. from In Futurum. 


Film Screening

9 October 1:00-3:30 - Gabriel Axel: Babette's feast (1987) 


Expectations of the Students

Students are expected to attend all class sessions unless prevented by an emergency. If you are not in class, you cannot participate. I expect you to complete all the assigned reading and come to class prepared to discuss it in depth. I expect you to turn in assignments on time.

Students are not allowed to use a laptop or smartphone in class. Considerations will, of course, be taken if you have special needs for a computer for note-taking. Please speak to the Office of Academic Support to request accommodations.

All students are expected to have completed the course readings before class so that we can discuss the material at the right level. It is important to be well prepared for class because I may randomly select students to give key points on the readings for that day.

Students are expected to participate actively in all classes and field studies and be open-minded to your fellow student’s contribution to the class. The aim is to establish an environment where we can learn from each other as well as from the texts and cases we engage with, and you are expected to actively support this approach.


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. Students are expected to be able to find and be at the external locations on time. The external locations will not be far from DIS's location and maps and addresses will be given in advance. Office hours are held after class or by appointment. 



Anders Larsen holds a Candidatus Magisterii in History and English Literature and Language from the University of Copenhagen.  Anders teaches a series of courses that deal with lifestyle including Meaning of Style that explores fashion as a cultural phenomenon, Copenhagen History. Structure, plan and design that takes student on a journey through the cultural history of the built environment, and Tasting Culture, an interdisciplinary exploration of European food culture.  Anders has over the years worked on various projects for DIS relating to cultural competencies and cultural engagement. He has furthermore worked on staff training within the Housing & Student Affairs department. With DIS since 2007. 




Students will be evaluated on their ability to understand, discuss and communicate theories within Anthropology of Food as well as interpret them meaningfully. These skills will be the primary focuses in evaluations. Group work in class and in the field as well as the student's ability to contribute to a group effort will be taken into account for the grade.



Your grade consists of the following three elements:



Assignment 1


Assignment 2


Assignment 3 


Assignment 4






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



We all have a collective responsibility to avoid the spread of COVID-19 at DIS. If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19 (Dry cough, high temperature, breathing difficulties, sore throat, headache, muscle pain), please stay at home and inform your faculty that you won’t be in class or at a field study – this will count as an excused absence. Keep up with the work and join activities via distance learning, if you are able to and if it is an option in your class (check with your faculty). If you are too sick to do work, reach out to the care team at for medical support and coordinate with your faculty to make up missed class time. 


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 on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

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