Culinary Practices in Shared Kitchens
a Collaborative Ethnobotanical Film Project

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Research questions

While the material generated by this project should be useful for a variety of investigations, and one of the goals of the project is to encourage collaborators to pursue their own lines of research within it, we can begin with a couple of questions which will help to organize the study:

  1. How do participants construct a cultural discourse of food?

    Members of the shared kitchens regularly present their culinary practices to a cross-cultural audience of other residents, which will be reinforced in this project by a second level of cross-cultural communication through the medium of film.  This creates an ethnographic situation which defamiliarizes an everyday practice, and calls on participants to make explict some of the cultural assumptions usually implicit in the practice.

    Particularly interesting should be the ways in which participants employ a range of home-country traditions and new practices.  This should be observableable in ethnobotanical detail by attending to the substitution of new ingredients for old ones, the incorporation of previously unknown species, and the adoption of new cooking techniques for preparing traditional foods.  Analytic attention will also be focused on the social situations in which foods are prepared, and the ways that foods are used within these contexts to mark a range of positions from cultural authenticity to cosmopolitan fluency.

  2. How does editing material into presentations reconstruct this discourse?

    As an extension of this, we can look at how participant-filmmakers select footage in the editing process and make it relevant within the sequence of the presentation.  This aspect of production forms another level of constructing discourse, and looking at the choices made in the editing process should be informative both in terms of food and of film.  Hence the goal of this examination is twofold, first in terms of contributing additional insight into the ways in which food discourses are constructed within particular performance contexts, and secondly in terms of making present, during the editorial process, the shifts in meaning that it produces.

  3. How do participants negotiate use of a shared commons?

    It will also be interesting to look at ways in which EW Center residents negotiate use of the commons at several levels: in shared kitchens, in the community garden, and in use of other campus plants. Although some of these areas of common use have are regulated by given sets of rules, these have been engaged in different ways, and ultimately their interpretation is a community negotiation. This question may also be worth applying to ways in which editors jointly select material out of the common body of footage.

These questions will be approached from a qualitative, discourse-oriented perspective.

David Strauch | P.O. Box 62223 | Honolulu, HI 96839
Revised 20 Nov 2006

Overview | Questions | Perspectives | Methods | Participation | Plan | Site