reflections on food

growing, cooking, eating, and thinking…

Reflections.. on Food and Other Things

I recently worked on a photo essay for a Visual Ethnography class I took. Our final assignment was to write a picture-based auto-ethnography. The project translates well into a blog format, and here it is…

Ethnographic work involves a significant amount of framing. As I take notes in the field, reflect on the meaning of the pictures I take, and put the words of the people I interview in context, the questions that guide my research provide the main frame. As a sociologist working on local food systems, I don’t focus on the personal issues of the people I interview unless those directly relate to their work, because that is outside my line of inquiry. If, by chance, somebody tells me something that is personal and not work-related, it will remain buried in my field notes, never to be divulged.
As I started to work on this autoethnography project, I decided to keep the frame relatively close, and focus on my research interests and on how they connect with my lifelong and fairly intertwined passions for food and for gardening. I realized, however, that that approach would imply removing struggles and challenges, losing depth. It would create a portrait that is fair, but incomplete in some significant part.
There is a certain pressure on a woman who is looking for a job in the academia or in an environment that requires Ph.D. level competences not to share too much about her family, least it could penalize her. It may become dehumanizing. At a personal level, the pain of having diverted, changed and sacrificed some of the jobs I held in the past on the altar of the family is dark and alive. It stains with a preventive shade of failure any accomplishment I achieve because chances are that what happened in the past will repeat itself in the future.
I live a comfortable life. My personal patriarchal bargain was a very good deal. I have material and intellectual freedom. I have a good family. I am an extraordinarily educated expat housewife.

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This entry was posted on January 28, 2015 by in autoethnography, sociology.
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