This panel combines a range of traditional approaches (from ethnosemantic to discourse analysis) to create a common semiotic toolkit for studying how humans communicate about, around, and through the full spectrum of their foodways (from production to disposal).
Studies that bring food and language together have occurred across anthropology for decades (think, for instance, of Malinowski's yam spells, Frake's drink orders, and Douglass's grammar of the meal). More recently, the joint focus on food and language in anthropological and communication studies has continued in a range of forms: etymological analysis of food words, conversational analysis of dinnertime discourse, and political analysis of food rhetoric (from films to farm bills). However, the attempt to bring these diverse threads together under one theoretical roof, working to explore the full spectrum of foodways (from production and processing to consumption and disposal) and the full multimodal spectrum of discourse (from idioms to kitchen gossip, from lip smacks to multimedia ads) is as yet only begun. This panel brings together papers by a group of researchers who are pushing the boundaries of this emerging interdisciplinary merger, looking for instance at feasting in France, sausage-making in Italy, women's entrepreneurial food in the Marquesas, and talk about and around local food in Dominica. Together we hope to provide a tantalizing vision of how food and language can be researched together through a semiotic lens bent on how people index who they are and how they feel about themselves and others, while communicating about, around, and through food in a multitude of contexts.