Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

‘It felt different in the gut’: Heath, kinship, and agroecology through the gut among Dai people in Yunnan, China  
Xiyao Fu (Yale University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing from semiotic theory and multispecies ethnography in the borderland of Southwest China, this research examines how the Dai identity is situated in the gut—where humans, plants, and microbes are entangled with affection, culture, and the climate through culinary practices and kinship rituals.

Paper long abstract:

As a major group in the multiethnic borderlands of Southwest China, the Dai people are known for their long history of wet rice cultivation and elaborate culinary cultures. Drawing from multispecies ethnography and semiotic theory, this research examines how the Dai identity is situated in the gut—where humans, plants, and microbes are entangled with affection, culture, and the climate. First, freshness is essential in the Dai cuisine, which requires multisensory attentiveness to plants in a hybrid agroecological landscape including home gardens, wet markets, and forests. While Han-Chinese market foods extend the shelf life, the Dai collaborate with microbes in preserving the freshness and creating sourness/spicy that adapts the body to the humid, subtropical climate. Second, fixed combinations of ingredients represent traditional knowledge that connects human bodies with the local environment through the guts. Key technologies such as the fermented bean paste turn what is inedible for others to desired nutritions for the Dai. Lastly, culinary practices become a semiotic ground for kinship and community rituals. In festivals and gatherings, gastronomic tradition is co-created and negotiated across generations—this gut connection is even extended to the ancestors and spirits through ritual offerings. Overall, health, kinships, and agroecology are viscerally connected in the referential knowledge (Heiddeger) of food preparation and rituals, where humans and nonhuman form semiotic processes—the corresponding sign-object and interpretant-object relations (Peirce)—that are expressive of Dai identity and agency. The insight from the Dai people reveals new ways to study indigenous foodways and multispecies relations through different feelings in the gut.

Panel P233
Oh my gut: anthropological pathways to the cultural, affective, medical and multispecies entanglements of the gut
  Session 2