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Title: The Feast that Lasts Forever: Food and Time in an Altai Village
Authors: Adkins, Tyler Benjamin
Advisors: Borneman, John
Oushakine, Serguei
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: Food Studies
Time and Temporality
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Slavic studies
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Based on twenty months of participant ethnography conducted in the Altailanguage, this dissertation explores the complex temporalities of eating, cooking, and feeding in a village in the Karakool Valley of Russia’s Altai Republic. The foodways of the Turkic-speaking Altai people of the Karakool Valley have weathered momentous historical change in the past century, from sedentarization and collectivization in the Soviet period, to privatization in the post-perestroika era. As this dissertation argues, however, food as object, activity, and idea in the Karakool Valley is not experienced as simply a sign of a fading traditional past. Examining the various ways in which foodways are used to both narrate temporal experiences and directly produce them, I argue here for an understanding of contemporary Altai food culture as reflecting a complex multiplicity of times and histories. This dissertation challenges both the prevalent focus on nostalgia and memory in contemporary post-socialist studies and what I argue is a privileging of retrospectivity in the anthropology of food—what this dissertation deems “the Proustian mode.” As I demonstrate in my discussions of Altai food practices, however, the Proustian mode fails to capture the ways in which my interlocutors link past, present, and future in their culinary experiences. Drawing on the work of Henri Bergson, I argue that the temporal experience of food is best understood as a “qualitative multiplicity” linking past, present, and future. This position is not, however, a complete repudiation of nostalgia: instead, this dissertation’s Bergsonian approach attempts to unveil the depths beneath the iceberg of seemingly nostalgic experience. In this manner, it intervenes in both the anthropology of food and post-socialist studies at their precise point of convergence, offering a supersession of the master topos of retrospectivity common to both.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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