Cultural geographies: food blog

A space for collaborative writing

Welcome to our chapter blog

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This is where the discussions took place about the content and organisations of the following book chapter:

Ian Cook, Peter Jackson, Allison Hayes-Conroy, Sebastian Abrahamsson, Rebecca Sandover, Mimi Sheller, Heike Henderson, Lucius Hallett, Shoko Imai, Damian Maye and Ann Hill (2013) Food’s cultural geographies: texture, creativity & publics. in Johnson, N., Schein, R. & Winders, J. (eds) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Cultural Geography, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp.343-354

The chapter is reproduced in full here. Please follow the links to its various sections to your right. We’re keen for this blog to continue its function as a place where food’s cultural geographies can continue to be discussed. If you want to add to the chapter, ask us questions, etc. please do so. The publication of this book chapter will hopefully not be the end of the online conversations through which it was created.


Written by Ian Cook et al

April 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm

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Comments from the editor: minor changes to make

with one comment

Hi Everyone

I received this email from Jamie Winders over the weekend. Her feedback is encouraging, I think, but there are a few small things to do by the end of the week.

I have replied with thanks and asked Jamie if her email could be published here so the process from commission to final editing starts and ends this blog. She was happy for this to happen.

I have annotated the letter with my suggestions. But there are some issues that need to be dealt with by those who drafted different sections.

Can appropriate people correct our online version ASAP and in bold?  I’ll uses these changes to edit the Word version and send in the final version by Friday.

Good to hear from Becky that some of us managed to catch up at the AAG conference (in around the food sessions that start the paper!).

Thanks and best wishes



Hi, Ian,

I’ve sat down to read your chapter, which I very much enjoyed. I think it’s an excellent engagement with food in the context of cultural geography. I really like the way it’s organized, and I’m intrigued to see how/if people engage with it online.

As you’ll see, my comments/suggestions are very minor. I’m listing them here in chronological order.

1. In your introduction and the discussion of perusing the AAG conference program, you assume that the reader is a faculty member or researcher (but not a student). Given the likely readership of this book, is there a way to insert a sentence that might speak to students attending the conference? Yes, I’ll do this.

2. On p. 2, under ‘Texture,’ is there a way to incorporate not only the body of the eater but the bodies of the people who worked to make that final food product available? I realize that later in your chapter, you do focus on the growers; but is there a way to incorporate or address the physicality, etc. of the workers involved in food as well? Texture authors – can you agree on something here?

3. Your mention on p. 3 of the relationship between the embodied cultural politics associated with food and the politics of food is really key. It also gets at the point I raised above (No. 2). OK.

4. On p. 5 at the very bottom, I began to wonder about the differences in how ‘food’ work is oriented in Britain and the U.S. You hint at this point later in the chapter, but I wonder if you want to address it head on (if you don’t, that’s fine as well, since the difference isn’t always clear cut). Nonetheless, there are different strands in cultural geography – food or otherwise – between a focus on ‘psychogeography, mobile locative art,’ etc. (p. 5) and a focus on social justice, ‘politics,’ etc. InterestingI’m not sure how to (or whether to) respond to this observation. Can we discuss this in comment son this post? What do you think?

As I said, Ian, my comments are very minor. This chapter is excellent. I’ll do a quick copy edit before I send it to the publishers with the other chapters but see no other major issues you should address.

Let me know what you think about my questions. If you decide to make any changes, I would need your final version by the end of next week (Friday, March 23rd, 2012).

Thanks again for a wonderful chapter.

All the best,

Written by Ian Cook et al

March 19, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

‘Food’s cultural geographies: texture, creativity & publics’ is submitted.

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Our chapter was submitted on Tuesday this week. All of our work now boils down to this!

Ian Cook, Peter Jackson, Allison Hayes-Conroy, Sebastian Abrahamsson, Rebecca Sandover, Mimi Sheller, Heike Henderson, Lucius Hallett, Shoko Imai, Damian Maye and Ann Hill (forthcoming) Food’s cultural geographies: texture, creativity & publics. in Johnson, N., Schein, R. & Winders, J. (eds) A New Companion to Cultural Geography, Oxford: Blackwell

Written by Ian Cook et al

February 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm

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Final editing begins

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Hi Everyone

I’ve put the sections that are on the blog into a single document and have started to edit this together. All being well, I’ll have a full first draft – with the new intro and most of the 3rd publicity section (not quite finished by myself, Ann and Damian) – completed by the end of the day on Monday. I will circulate this via email as a Word doc – since Google docs have been problematic for some – and I will paste various sections back onto the blog, so that anyone can edit/add, etc. during the week.

It’s great to see this coming together in one document. The concerns that some have expressed about section word counts should be ironed out in the editing process as there is some repetition of arguments (from Crang and Wylie, for example) and the tightening up flow of the argument between the sections also will also makes things more efficient.

I hope you can all trust me not to maul too many your carefully crafted words! We we asked to write something that more or less speaks with one voice – very much unlike the Afters paper – and that’s what I’m aiming for with these final revisions.

I have promised the submission by the end of next week, so I hope everyone will be able to find some time to have one last look and edit…

Have a good weekend. Almost there. Thanks…



Written by Ian Cook et al

February 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The paper: structure & tasks?

with 6 comments

Hi Everyone

I’ve collated all of the posts and comments on the blog into a word document (please download it here). I’d like to make some suggestions about how we could – collectively – turn 29,000 blog words into a 6,000 (including refs) book chapter. I’d like to suggest a structure, section word counts, editor-teams, and rough ideas for the different sections.  It is by no means set in stone but will hopefully be manageable in the short time we have left.

Before that structure, etc., a reminder and a rationale:

Reminder (the original brief)

While we wish to let each author have the freedom to tackle his/her chapter as he/she sees fit, we recognise that it is important that we provide some guidance to give the volume coherence. We, therefore, offer the following broad outline of what we would like in each chapter: a short discussion of the evolution of the topic under consideration followed by a longer discussion of the major trends within the topic at present and perhaps speculation about future interesting research areas. While we do not expect you to write an exhaustive literature review, we would like you to identify key ideas, citing the literature within and outside of geography and illustrating the ideas where possible with empirical material. In cases where little empirical material has been produced, it might be interesting to speculate on the reasons for this absence.

Rationale (from the Crang 2010 and Wylie 2010 papers):

Crang (2010) argues that Cultural Geography has gained a new vitality and shares new sensibilities, via orientations to texture, creativity and publicity (to read the arguments to work with, see the detailed quotation from his paper on p.39 of the download or in the comments on this post).

These terms – with a bit of finessing – could work for us, as they allow a clear intro section- a summary of the state of the art in CG and three themes which more or less match what we discussed – and some kind of conclusion/ending – how the work we discuss illustrates and develops these wider themes. How this might work will be explained next…

Suggested chapter structure, contents, flow and drafters/editors

[NB please click the heading to go to the page where you could discuss, paste, and edit your section(s): to be completed]

i) Intro (500 words?)

Key points

  • summarising the revisiting/rethinking of Cultural Geographies as discussed in the series of papers which include those by Crang & Wylie;
  • making some mention of the proliferation(?) of food research in geography (e.g. via the 2010 + 11 AAG conference sessions);
  • explaining the selection of Crang’s three orientations as ways to organise our cultural geographies of food, and saying something about that work’s potential contributions to debates in cultural geography(?);
  • briefly explaining the rationale /process of our co-authorship (possibly in a footnote).

Where in the document?

  • Discussions and quotations from Crang & Wylie’s papers on p.38-41.
  • Picking up smaller bits an bobs in quotes throughout the doc(?).


  • Ian

ii) Texture (1,200 words?)

Key points

  • what is ‘texture’ for Crang, and how is it part of the ‘evolution’ of cultural geogs? (summarised/quoted on p.38-41)
  • how/why has food geog research ‘evolved’ towards appreciations of texture?
  • this allows us to draw on the rich/fascinating discussions of materiality, viscerality, guts, and food/eating that were contributed to the blog.
  • theoretically, this work seems to work primarily through arguments by Mol, Bennett, Probyn and Nash & Jacobs(?).

Raw materials?

  • the section on ‘(Theorising) Food/Eating,’ p.4-10 +
  • the section on ‘Food, desire and other feelings,’ p.10-19. +
  • most of ‘Food and consumer practice’, p.20-24.
  • [not sure about the short discussion of ‘White people food’ here – see what you think]


  • Main ones: Sebastian, Allison, Peter and Rebecca?
  • Others: Lucius [maybe later, I’m asking him to take more of a lead below] + Melanie Dupuis [who may contribute something in the next few days?].

iii) Creativity (1,200 words?)

Key points:

  • what is ‘creativity’ for Crang (and ‘performance’ for him and for Wylie), and how is it part of the ‘evolution’ of cultural geogs? (summarised/quoted on p.38-41)
  • how/why has food geog research ‘evolved’ towards appreciations of creativity & performance?
  • theoretically, this could expand/rework arguments on texture above, though Heike’s discussion of Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s joining up the work of chefs and artists on p.30 of the doc:

…the materiality of food and its precarious position between sustenance and garbage make it a powerful performance medium. Performance artists working on the line between art and life are thus particularly attentive to the phenomenal nature of food and the processes associated with it. In her companion piece “Making Sense of Food in Performance” (2007) she analyzes staging and performances of food and cooking in restaurants. This transformation of the workplace into theater moves beyond artistic considerations, it has clear economic implication.

  • this seems to work in terms of our discussions of practice (Peter on p.20) and ‘performance’ (from Mimi, Heike, Lucius & Shoko), which focus primarily on chefs and artists;
  • the section could usefully end with Mimi’s words on p.38:

So the question for me would be what can cultural geography (or social theory more generally) bring into performative practice that is distinctive, research-based, historically-informed, and maybe even transformative?

Raw materials?

  • the start of the section on Food and consumer practice’, p.20 +
  • the section on ‘Chefs performing food’, p.31-32 +
  • the section on ‘Food, art, performance and cultural geography’, p.32-38 (before the Crang and Wylie summary/quotation that we could all read) + p.41-42 (the end of Mimi’s comment) +
  • the section on ‘Cultural geographies meets performance studies’, p.24-31 +
  • the section on ‘Performing food’ on p.47-49 +
  • the section on ‘Food/Performance/Art’ on p.49-52


  • Main ones: Mimi, Heike, Lucius & Shoko.
  • Others: Peter, Rebecca and Ian [on first draft of this bit?]

iv) Publicity (1,200 words?)

Key points

  • what is ‘publicity’ for Crang (and what does Wylie have to say on the subject?), and how is it part of the ‘evolution’ of cultural geogs? (summarised/quoted on p.38-41)
  • how/why has food geog research ‘evolved’ towards appreciations of public geogs?
  • although the previous section will have discussed the ways in which food’s materialities/etc. are worked with by chefs and artists for their diners/audiences, here the emphasis could be on ways in which, Ann says on p.53, cultural geographic work on food could promise:

the potential to cultivate new food futures through research. What might new scripts for the ‘Drama of Food’ entail?

  • this allows us to discuss the performative- / practice-based arguments  about ‘diverse food economies’ (Ann?), popular food activism (I could will draw on examples in’s Grocery dept) and, perhaps, about food security (Damian) that end the document…

Raw materials?

  • the long comment by Ann on p.43-4 +
  • the section on ‘The drama of food’, p.52-


  • Ann, Ian and Damian
  • Mimi & Heike [to work on distinctions/overlaps re. the art work they discuss]

v) Ending (500 words)

Do this together, after the above sections are written?

vi) References (800-1,000) words

To be edited down from the original long list here.


Assuming this is more or less OK, makes sense, and one or two people in each section group have time to take a lead on this drafting process, can people:

  1. get in touch with their section co-authors to discuss practicalities (emails below, but comment boxes can also be good)? and
  2. paste and edit their sections on the new blog pages which you can click on above or in the right hand margin (we can see what others are writing, each of us can edit the pages’ texts, and we can discuss things in the comments).

There will be different experiences of co-authoring which we can bring to these smaller groups. Can we also do this ASAP?! I promised a ‘mid-Jan’ submission, but these 1,200 word chunks, and final editing will probably take us to the end of the month.

Texture group: Sebastian, Allison, Peter & Rebecca [;;;]

Creativity group: Mimi, Heike, Lucius & Shoko [;;;]

Publicity group: Ann, Ian & Damian [;;]

Excuse and correct any errors/confusions here, please!

Written by Ian Cook et al

January 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Blog -> chapter…

with one comment


This is an admin post.

The coding/editing/drafting process for our book chapter will start on 2 January.

There’s lots to work with now/here, so thanks to everyone for reviving this discussion. There’s a good chapter in here somehow…

If you have any more to add to the discussion, could you please do so before the end of the year?!

I’m hoping – realistically – to send around / post a rough draft by 6th January, perhaps with invitations to groups of authors to edit/finish different sections. Hope that sounds OK.

Looking forward to this…

Thanks / festive feelings / happy holidays


Written by Ian Cook et al

December 20, 2011 at 9:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized


with 5 comments

Hi everybody, I am glad that this discussion has been revived.

Ian asked me to elaborate on some performative/artistic food work that I have found particularly interesting, so here goes:

On the top of my list is probably performance artist Caroline Smith aka Mertle’s one-woman performance “Eating Secret.” As part of this performance Smith transforms herself into a 1950s housewife who encourages strangers to confess their eating habits, peculiarities, and secrets. The secrets are disclosed in one-to-one sessions and then become part of Smith’s monologue. To increase her geographical radius for collecting secrets, Smith also started operating “Mobile Eating Secret Stations” (abbreviated M.E.S.S.). Smith’s new project “Eating Portraits” focuses on participants performing eating in front of Mertle and her camera. This is a response to the cultural taboo of being seen eating.

Another favorite of mine is London-based performance artist Bobby Baker who, amongst other stimulating explorations of daily life (and re-valuations of domesticity), made a life-size edible cake version of her family to be eaten by visitors. Both Baker and Smith’s performances tap into a long feminist art tradition, going back to Margret Atwood’s Edible Woman and Judy Chicago’s art installation “Dinner Party,” that explores our relationship with food.

The work of equally well-known Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic, who began her career in the early 1970s, explores the limits of the body. In her 1997 video performance “Balkan Baroque,” for which she received the Golden Lion Award for Best Artist at the Venice Biennale, she cleaned huge piles of beef bones with a brush while singing songs for the dead from her home country. Visually stunning, this installation does what I think all good performances do: it exposes the interpenetrations of identity, experience and social relations. Due to problems with the shipment of bones, a 2010 Abramovic retrospective at the MoMA caused the curators of the museum to learn about BSE, slaughterhouses, and places like Skulls Unlimited. This once again brings the relationship between art, food, and cultural geography to the forefront!

In a less artistic and more political variant of public performances of food and eating, Chris Voigt, head of the Washington State Potato Commission, recently put himself on a 60 days potato-only diet to prove that potatoes are nutritious and healthy. This “stunt,” reminiscent of (and maybe inspired by?) Morgan Spurlock’s film Supersize Me, is an example how food “performances” can be and are being used for political reasons.

A good example of performance art meeting politics and civil engagement is Local Orbit in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This company that facilitates the distribution of local, sustainably farmed food is the brainchild of playwright Erika Block who started learning about food systems while doing research for a performance art piece. This once again shows how art can lead to new practices.

And last but not least an example from pop culture: Miss Platnum, born Ruth Maria Renner, is a flamboyant Romanian-German singer who in her 2007 music video “Give Me The Food” challenges societal demands on women to be thin. Here is a little excerpt of her bold and quirky song: “I don’t care what people say/About my weight./So if you want to take me out/For a date, make sure there is/Enough food on my plate/And maybe I let you/Get a taste of my cake!/Ha!/ Give me the food, give me the food.”

Ok folks, I could probably come up with more examples but I think that’s enough for today. Have a great weekend,



Written by Heike Henderson

November 27, 2011 at 1:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized