Thursday, November 06, 2008

Making Culture: Quote from Chapter 2

"So when we speak of "ethnic" culture we are referring to these extraordinarily complex, rich collections of traditions of culture making, each rooted in a particular set of times and places.  But we should not be misled by the common associations of the word ethnic.  In many American supermarkets you can still find and "ethnic food" aisle - as if only some kinds of food participate in a cultural tradition. Nonsense - all food is "ethnic"(41).

OK, so the first time I read this quote something struck me as odd.  And here is why.  When he discusses the word ethnic, I know what he means by the term.  And when he discusses the "ethnic food aisle" at a grocery store, I also know what he means.  But I also know what he means he discusses the ethnic food aisle and he assumes I and others know what he means.  So, how can he call it "nonsense" for us to call it that simply to differentiate that aisle form the aisle with chips?  In our culture that is what we call it!  To call it nonsense is to assume a culture's understanding of the term "ethnic food aisle" is without sense.  Actually it has immense sense.  Or does he mean something by "nonsense"?  ;)

1 comment:

Dawn E said...

My thought is that instead of describing the ethnic food aisle, the word "nonsense" refers back to this phrase: "only some kinds of food participate in a cultural tradition."
"...all food is 'ethnic'" Hmmm. Interesting. Do you think he's challenging our ethnocentric views? Is a hotdog ethnic? It's food for thought...pun intended. :)