Department of Philosophy brings scholars and chef for workshops on Food, Philosophy and Art in the US and Mexico
Food, Philosophy and Art in the US and Mexico is a research project funded by the department of philosophy, the Office of Global Engagement, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute, and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.
For this two-day workshop, scholars from UGA, Mexico City and Madrid will speak about philosophical and anthropological issues related to the aesthetics of food. Prior to the public workshops, Juan Escalona – a young Mexico City cook and scholar who has worked at Noma, Pujol and Máximo Bistrot – will prepare a meal for invited guests at The National that explores the diversity of Mexican culture. At the workshops, Escalona will talk about that meal and his work with the Mexico City collective Sexto.
The schedule for the workshop is below. The Day 1 Workshop will take place in Peabody Hall, Room 115. A public reception with Juan Escalona will follow at Big City Bread Cafe, 393 N Finley St., Athens, from 7-9 p.m. The Day 2 Workshop will take place in Baldwin Hall, Room 307.
Day 1, Sept. 15
Sponsored by the department of philosophy, the Office of Global Engagement, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.
Peabody Hall, Room 115
3:05: Paloma Atencia-Linares and Miguel Ángel Sebastián (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
“Debates on Culinary Norms”
It is not unusual to hear or read about heated debates concerning food and culinary products: many of us have strong views on what counts as a good taco al pastor, a good paella, a good pizza, etc. But what justifies our claims? We claim that, more often than not, these debates do not so much concern our interest in aesthetic value – what tastes good – as our interest in aesthetic correctness – what is aesthetically right. Hence, a plausible way to seek a source of justification is to appeal to norms internal to aesthetic practices (Kuala 2020). We explore this possibility by establishing a comparison with different artistic practices and we claim that norms in the culinary domain are more complicated than in well-established artistic practices; in particular, there are conflicts between practice-internal norms that are not easily resolved. We claim that the normativity of culinary aesthetic practices is particularly messy given some intrinsic and contingent characteristics of this domain.
3:50: Juan Escalona (Cook and Sexto Collective, Mexico)
“Edible Cultural Units (UCC)”
The collective Sexto developed an ontology intended to understand ingredients as an intersection between life and culture. Escalona will present the structure of this ontological tool as well as specific examples from Sexto’s project on wild edible mushrooms from the Ñuu Savi culture from Oaxaca.
4:50: Sarah Bak-Geller Corona (Anthropology, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México):
“The Indigenous Cuisines of Latin America: Rebellious Bodies and Subversive Tastes”
The decade of the 1990s marked a new era in the history of Latin America, during which we may observe a phenomenon common to the majority of countries comprising the region: that is, the transformation of uni-national, homogenous and often mestizo states, into those that are pluri-national, recognizing the diversity of peoples and cultures existing within their territory. The figure of the indigenous citizen arises, then, as a subject with distinct rights, guaranteed the freedom to exercise ethnic identity (the rights to bilingual education, to land, to following uses and customs, among others). In this context, culinary culture has become a contentious arena for defining what and who is “indigenous.” We will explore the actors, interests and resources that are part of this disputed scenario, where cuisine acquires a preponderant role, as it has become one of the absolute proofs – before language, attire or other cultural expressions – of indigeneity.
5:35: Aaron Meskin (Philosophy, UGA)
“Going Out: An Aesthetics of Places”
This talk is an introduction to, and defense of, the significance of the aesthetic dimensions of the places where we go out, such as cafes, bars and pubs. Meskin argues that the aesthetics of these places have been unjustifiably neglected, that there are rich aesthetic topics to explore here, and that the contribution of such places to human flourishing is dependent, at least in part, on their aesthetic character.
Big City Bread Cafe
7:00: Public reception with Juan Escalona
Day 2, Sept. 16
Sponsored by the department of philosophy, the Office of Global Engagement, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute, and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.
Baldwin Hall, Room 307
12:35: Juan Escalona (Cook and Sexto Collective, Mexico)
“Mexico’s Edible Diversity”
Mexico as a territory is home of more than sixty cultures, each holding different identities, from language to their gastronomy. Drawing on six different courses he will prepare for an evening meal prior to the workshops, Escalona will explore some of the conceptual attributes that identify the basis of this diversity based on the ingredient corn – with chile and spices blended with local ingredients in season.
1:20: Sarah Bak-Geller Corona (Anthropology, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México):
“Edible Politics in Latin America. Cookbooks, Nations and Citizenship, 1830-2022”
This project examines culinary language, specifically that of cookbooks, as a critical element for analyzing, defining, understanding, and contesting the dominant ideas of nationhood and citizenship in Latin America. Recipe books had a pioneering role in forming national identities, becoming a preferred vehicle for expressing political ideas that transcended the world of cooking and produced some of the most consistent, widespread, and lasting images of the nation. Today, cookbooks continue to hold a significant place in the public debate over nationhood and citizenship in Latin America, particularly for countries whose transitions have been toward multicultural and plurinational regimes. In those cases, indigenous recipes have become a resource for ethnic minorities, who have seen in these documents a visible, effective instrument for vindicating and distinguishing them within the nation’s multicultural regimen.