A Definition of Culture

The cultural is defined as a social domain that emphasizes the practices, discourses, and material expressions that over time express the continuities and discontinuities of social meaning of a life held-in-common.

In other words, culture is ‘how and why we do things around here’. The ‘how’ is how we practice materially, the ‘why’ emphasizes the meanings, the ‘we’ refers to the specificity of a life held-in-common, and ‘around here’ specifies the spatial, and also by implication the temporal particularity of culture. The concept of ‘culture’ had its beginnings in agriculture and cultivation, with subsidiary senses of ‘honour with worship’ of cultura, which in the sixteenth century were linked to understanding of human growth and development. This is of course directly relevant to issues of food. Across the recent past the concept of ‘culture’ has been relegated to the soft outside of political and economic concerns. Certainly issues of power are ever-present in the cultural domain in relation to contested outcomes over social meaning, but this is to too quickly bring in questions of politics. Meaning has its own consequences.

This has profound implications for thinking about the culture of food. It means that culture involves much more than the arts and aesthetics. The culture of food concerns us all. Each of the aspects below were developed to describe the cultural human condition in general. By addressing each and all of these aspects in relation to the culture of food, we begin to comprehend the complexity of all food systems.

Perspectives and Aspects of Culture

  1. Identity and Engagement
    1. Diversity and Difference
    2. Belonging and Community
    3. Ethnicity and Language
    4. Religion and Faith
    5. Friendship and Affinity
    6. Home and Place
    7. Monitoring and Reflection
  2. Creativity and Recreation
    1. Aesthetics and Design
    2. Performance and Representation
    3. Innovation and Adaptation
    4. Celebrations and Festivals
    5. Sport and Play
    6. Leisure and Relaxation
    7. Monitoring and Reflection
  3. Memory and Projection
    1. Tradition and Authenticity
    2. Heritage and Inheritance
    3. History and Records
    4. Indigeneity and Custom
    5. Imagination and Hope
    6. Inspiration and Vision
    7. Monitoring and Reflection
  4. Beliefs and Ideas
    1. Knowledge and Interpretation
    2. Ideologies and Imaginaries
    3. Reason and Rationalization
    4. Religiosity and Spirituality
    5. Rituals and Symbols
    6. Emotions and Passions
    7. Monitoring and Reflection
  5. Gender and Generations
    1. Equality and Respect
    2. Sexuality and Desire
    3. Family and Kinship
    4. Birth and Babyhood
    5. Childhood and Youth
    6. Mortality and Care
    7. Monitoring and Reflection
  6. Enquiry and Learning
    1. Curiosity and Discovery
    2. Deliberation and Debate
    3. Research and Application
    4. Teaching and Training
    5. Writing and Codification
    6. Meditation and Reflexivity
    7. Monitoring and Reflection
  7. Wellbeing and Health
    1. Integrity and Autonomy
    2. Bodies and Corporeal Knowledge
    3. Mental Health and Pleasure
    4. Care and Comfort
    5. Inclusion and Participation
    6. Cuisine and Emotional Nourishment
    7. Monitoring and Reflection

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