Foie Gras and the Politics of Food
Princeton University Press 2016
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in FoodNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network March 25, 2017 Richard E. Ocejo
A heritage food in France, and a high-priced obscurity in the United States. But in both countries, foie gras, the specially fattened liver of a duck or goose, has the power to stir a remarkable array of emotions and produce heated debates. Comparing the French and American producers and consumers of this controversial food item, Contested Tastes: Foie Gras and the Politics of Food (Princeton University Press, 2016) offers readers a broad mix of these perspectives under a clear, rich analysis. Assistant Professor Michaela DeSoucey takes readers to the farms in southwest France, where ducks are force-fed with tubes placed down their throats, and into the high-end restaurants in Chicago, where foie gras was temporarily banned in the 2000s and made an object of fascination. Her aim is to show how we could use what she calls gastropolitics, or the conflicts over food and culinary practices that get branded as social problems and lie at the intersection of social movements, cultural markets, and government regulation, to understand the implications and impacts these contestations have for social life in a variety of contexts. The result is a highly informative and entertaining journey through the social and symbolic terrain surrounding foie gras. Readers will truly learn a lot from liver.
Richard E. Ocejo is associate professor of sociology at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy (Princeton University Press, 2017), about the transformation of low-status occupations into cool, cultural taste-making jobs (cocktail bartenders, craft distillers, upscale men’s barbers, and whole animal butchers), and of Upscaling Downtown: From Bowery Saloons to Cocktail Bars in New York City (Princeton University Press, 2014), about growth policies, nightlife, and conflict in gentrified neighborhoods. His work has appeared in such journals as City & Community, Poetics, Ethnography, and the European Journal of Cultural Studies. He is also the editor of Ethnography and the City: Readings on Doing Urban Fieldwork (Routledge, 2012) and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Metropolitics, Work and Occupations, and the Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography.