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Tasting Religion

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Foodways, which span the cultivation, selection, procurement, preservation, preparation, sharing, eating and not-eating, and disposal of food by persons and communities, are fundamental to religion. Struggles for and over food have been foundational and perpetual in the lives of religious persons and communities; this is true of struggles over food’s material form, as well as over its classification (food or not-food, permitted food or forbidden food, foods that must be separated and foods that must be combined, food for the gods, food for others, and food for oneself and one’s intimate others). If the plurality of significance of food in religion is remarkable, it is equally remarkable that food is a constantly significant feature: simply put, there is no community that does religion that does not also participate in religioning through food.

This volume explores the production, consumption, and sharing of food as key ways to understand and learn about religious lives or practices. While food rules (e.g. kashrut or halal) are discussed this book is more about the fluidity of religious life than about official teachings. As with the other volumes in this series, the authors seek to avoid some of the historical pitfalls of Western discourses that hierarchize the senses, and isolate them from one another. They are interested in the ways that taste troubles such readings of the body, both physical and social, and invites us to think of the texture of full-body experiences of flavour, hunger, satiety, desire, guilt, revulsion, connection, intoxication, foreignness, and at-home-ness. In the same way, taste troubles the geography of the nation-state, by turns containing and revealing the multi-placed, multi-bodied histories of foods. The multi-sense and trans-bordered dimensions of taste, as a mode of relating to food, and as a mode of relating to knowing, reveal alternative ways of making sense of the ways that persons and communities engage in and disengage from religioning in creative, mundane, diverse, and particular material ways.

Published: Feb 1, 2024


Section Chapter Authors
Introduction Graham Harvey, Aldea Mulhern
Part 1: Production
1. Converting to Flourishing: Eco-halal and Eco-Buddhist Farming in Conversation Sarah Robinson-Bertoni
2. Protecting Our Living Relatives: Environmental Reproductive Justice and Seed Rematriation Elizabeth Hoover
Part 2: Preparation
3. Making Dry Meat: Indigenous Dene Food Preparation and the Importance of Women’s Labor in Maintaining Familial, Ecological, and Spiritual Relations David Walsh
4. A Trickster Menu: Food offerings for Eshu in Umbanda Patricia de Souza
Part 3: Consumption
5. Against Taste: The Ritual Power of Revulsion in Consuming the Decaying Dead Beth Conklin
6. What Does religion Taste Like? Graham Harvey
Part 4: Refraining
7. Tasty Nationalism at the Table of the Republic: Excluding Food, Excluding People at School and in the Streets of Contemporary France Florence Pasche Guignard
8. Milk, Meat, Fish, and Feelings: Gender, the Taste of Animal Ethics, and the Development of Religious Food Laws in the 21st Century Aldea Mulhern
Part 5: Preservation/Disposal
9. LDS Food Preservation Dixie Johnson, Reka Bordas-Simon
10. Sacred to Profane: Temples, Tables, Toilets and Tombs Graham Harvey