Dr Emma Jayne Abbots BA(Hons); MRes; PhD

Senior Lecturer in Social/Cultural Anthropology and Heritage


Tel: +44 (0) 1570 424757
E-mail: e.abbots@uwtsd.ac.uk

Emma-Jayne Abbots

I am a political and economic anthropologist, and my teaching and research interests coalesce around the cultural politics of food; materialities and material culture; the body and biopolitics; and the (re)production, representation and mediation of knowledge; and  ecological, cultural, social and economic sustainability. I have also published on the themes of: food, care, and intimacies; gender and kinship relations; migration and transnationalism; gift and exchange; domestic labour and consumption; food media; and class dynamics.  I am the co-editor (with A. Lavis) of ‘Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters between Foods and Bodies’ (2013, Ashgate) and of ‘Careful Eating: Embodied Entanglements Between Food and Care (with A. Lavis and L. Attla) (in press, Ashgate). My research activities have received funding from the AHRC.  Wenner Gren Foundation and the Royal Anthropological Institute / Sutasoma Trust.
My current projects include ‘Assembling Craft Cider in Europe’ and ‘Visceral Viewing: The Materialities of Food Media.’ Previous to this, my research and long-term ethnographic fieldwork examined the consequences of migration and remittance incomes in the greater Cuenca region of Ecuador, with a particular focus on food, time politics, migration and class relations. I am also founding co-member of SuRN (Supermarkets Research Network) and the co-leader (with A, Lavis) of the theoretical collaboration ‘Consuming Materialities’, which draws together medical anthropology and political economy approaches to the study of objects, affect and the body. In addition, I am an academic advisor for ‘Rural Alliances’ (an Interreg 4b project), a Fellow at Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity at the University of Oxford and an affiliated Research Associate at the SOAS Food Studies Centre. 
Prior to joining University of Wales Trinity Saint David, I taught a range of anthropology modules at Goldsmiths and Birkbeck, both University of London, including political and economic anthropology, consumption and anthropological methods, and undertook postdoctoral research the SOAS Food Studies Centre (also University of London). I completed my anthropology undergraduate, MRes and PhD, entitled, ‘It’s the Modern Way of Life: Food, Mobility and Time Politics among Newly-Wealthy Campesinos in Highland Ecuador’, at Goldsmiths.  

My teaching and supervision interests focus on political and economic anthropology, anthropological theory, food systems, rural sustainability and heritage practice. Regional interests include Latin America (especially the Andes) and Europe.

I convene modules in:

  • Introduction to Fieldwork (Level 4)
  • Theory, Methods and Practice: Critical Approaches (Anthropology) (Level 5)
  • Material Worlds: Approaches to Economic Relations (Level 5)
  • Political Anthropology: Approaches to Power  (Level 6)
  • Engaging with Anthropological Theory (Level 7)
  • The Politics of Food (Level 7)
  • Heritage Representation and Interpretation (Level 7)
My research and teaching interests centre on the cultural politics of food and the visceral practices of its production, preparation, distribution and consumption. I am broadly concerned with the (re)production and mediation of knowledge and the political and environmental ecologies in which knowledge-making takes place. A particular focus is the role of the body in this process and how bodies are both subjected to, and co-constitutive of, political dynamics. I primarily explore these questions of embodied knowledges, and the ways in which they are (re)created, mediated, abstracted and valued, within the context of artisan food, craft and the heritage industry. As such, in addition to interrogating food’s relationalities, materialities and affects, my research also examines how cultural imaginings and representations of the past and future are politically and economically mobilised in the present. In addition, I have researched and published on the related themes of: care, intimacies and kinship; social media; class and labour relations; migration and transnationalism; gender relations; consumption, eating and ingestion; safety and risk; and time politics. My research has received funding from the AHRC, Wenner-Gren Foundation and the RAI / Sutasoma Trust.   

My current and previous projects include: 

Assembling Craft Cider, ongoing from 2014
This research interrogates what constitutes ‘craft’ in the context of Herefordshire and Welsh cider. Specifically, it addresses the ways in which crafting – as an application of knowledge, skill and instinct – draws together both abstract, codified learning and embodied, experiential practice. Moreover, as the ecology of craft includes the market, regulatory authorities and other producers, it examines how craft cider producers construct and value their own practices in relation to such interlocutors. In situating the everyday processes of making, transmitting, enacting and mediating knowledge and skill within this broader political economy, the project aims to extend recent understandings of situated learning and the dynamic interactions between body, mind and environment. It will also provide new insights into how craft and artisan products can be understood beyond existing scholarship that focuses on the commodification and appropriation of alternative foods and the food heritage industry. This project is part-funded by an AHRC Care for the Future grant for ‘Consuming Authenticity’. 
Visceral Viewing: The Materialities of Food Media, ongoing from 2014. (Co-PI with M. K. Goodman, University of Reading). 
This project examines how the embodied affects and effects of food media are produced and experienced by both programme makers and audiences. Moving beyond and extending notions of active audience theory and biopedagogies, and developing innovative methods such as soundscapes, this research interrogates how food media is designed to provoke visceral responses in viewers and, in turn, explores how audiences’ bodies viscerally respond to such media techniques. In so doing, it works to elucidate the ‘affective politics’ that emerge from the interplays between materialities, the body and knowledge by attending to the ways in which media representations of what others are cooking and eating are ‘felt’ by those watching.  As such, it questions taken-for-granted boundaries between consuming, watching and eating, as well as those between the material and the virtual. An additional thread considers how new technologies, of both the kitchen and the media, shape such bodily engagements with food and examines how technological innovation both enables and prohibits the production of coterminous bodies and shared food experiences across space. 
Food, Migration and Consumption among the Ecuadorian Peasantry, 2005-14
This project, which includes my PhD and postdoctoral work, examined the consequences of outward migration and remittance incomes in the Southern Ecuadorian Highlands, with a particular focus on: consumption and exchange, particularly food practices; kinship and gender; class relations; and time politics.  Later developments focused on fast food consumption, the consequences of inward migration of North Americans on food markets, and the politics of dietary programmes. Two extensive periods of fieldwork (Oct 2005-Nov 2006, Jan-June 2010) have resulted in a number of journal articles and chapters. 

Research Networks 

Consuming Materialities (Founding Member with A. Lavis)
This innovative network brings together political economy and medical anthropological approaches to explore the ways ‘things’ – and the networks of relations that produce them – are assembled, disassembled and reassembled through acts of consumption and ingestion. 
Supermarkets Research Network (SuRN), (Founding member with B. Coles, M. K. Goodman and H. G. West)
The network aims to draw together and share knowledge on the ways in which supermarkets are used, negotiated and experienced by a range of food consumers, producers and distributors, and the ways they can affect sustainability, resilience, security and safety in global food networks.
Under Contract: The Agency of Eating: Mediation, Food and the Body, London: Bloomsbury, ms delivery 1.09.2015
Edited Books:  
2013: (with A. Lavis) (eds.), Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters Between Foods and Bodies, Aldershot: Ashgate (Critical Food Studies series) 
In Press 2015:   (with A. Lavis and L. Attala) (eds.), Careful Eating: The Embodied Entanglements of Food and Care, Aldershot: Ashgate (Critical Food Studies Series)
Under Contract: (with B. Coles and M. Goodman) (eds.), Supermarkets and their Alternatives: The Politics and Practices of Sustainable Food. London: Routledge (Food, Environment and Society series), ms delivery 15.09.2015
Journal Special Editions:
Forthcoming 2016: (ed.) ‘The Stuff of Food: Material Transformations and Translations’, Gastronomica
Articles in Peer Reviewed Journals:
Forthcoming, 2016: ‘Introducing the Stuff of Food and its Material Transformations and Translations’, Gastronomica
In Press: ‘The Intimacies of Industry: Consumer Interactions with the ‘Stuff ‘of Celebrity Chefs’ in Food, Culture and Society 
2014: (with L. Attala) ‘It’s Not What You Eat but How and That You Eat: Social Media, Counter-Discourses and Disciplined Ingestion among Amateur Competitive Eaters’ in Geoforum, available online before print. 
2014: ‘Investing in the Family’s Future: Labour, Gender and Consumption in Highland Ecuador’ in Families, Relationships and Societies 
2013: (with B. Coles) ‘Horsemeat-Gate: The Production of a Neoliberal ‘Scandal’’ in Food, Culture and Society 16(4)
2012: ‘In the Absence of Men? Gender, Migration and Domestic     Labour in the Southern Ecuadorean Andes’ in the Journal of Latin American Studies 44(1): 71-96
2011: ‘“It Doesn’t Taste as Good from the Pet Shop”; Guinea Pig Consumption and the Performance of Class and Kinship in Highland Ecuador and New York City’ in Food, Culture and Society 14 (2): 205-224
In press 2015: ‘Caring about Care-less Eating: Class Politics, Governance and the Production of Otherness in Highland Ecuador’ in Careful Eating: The Embodied Entanglements of Food and Care, E-J. Abbots, A. Lavis and L. Attala (eds.), Aldershot: Ashgate 
In press 2015: (with A. Lavis and L. Attala) ‘Introduction: Careful Eating, Reflections of the Embodied Intersections of Eating and Care’ in Careful Eating: The Embodied Entanglements of Food and Care, E-J. Abbots, A. Lavis and L. Attala (eds.), Aldershot: Ashgate 
Forthcoming, 2015: ‘Approaches to Food and Migration: Rootedness, Belonging and Exchange’ in Handbook of Food and Anthropology, J. Klein & J. Watson (eds.), London: Bloomsbury
Forthcoming 2015: ‘Buying the Ties that Bind: Consumption, Care and Investment among Transnational Households in Highland Ecuador’ in Intimacies, Families and the Practices of Consumption, E.Casey & Y. Taylor (eds.), Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 
2014: ‘The Fast and the Fusion: Class, Creolization and the Remaking of Comida Típica in Highland Ecuador’ in Food Consumption in Global Perspective. Essays in the Anthropology of Food in Honour of Jack Goody, J. Klein & A. Murcott (eds.), pp 87-107, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 
2014: ‘Embodying Country-City Relations: The Figure of the Chola Cuencana in Highland Ecuador’ in Food Between the Country and the City: Ethnographies of a Changing Global Foodscape, N. Domingos, J. Sobral & H.G. West (eds.), pp 41-57, London: Bloomsbury 
2013: ‘Negotiating Foreign Bodies: Migration, Trust and the Risky Business of Eating in Highland Ecuador’ in Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters Between Foods and Bodies, E-J. Abbots & A. Lavis (eds.), pp 119-138 Aldershot: Ashgate
2013: (with A. Lavis). ‘Introduction: Mapping the New Terrain of Eating: Reflections on the Encounters between Foods and Bodies’ in Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters Between Foods and Bodies, E-J. Abbots & A. Lavis (eds.), pp 1-12, Aldershot: Ashgate
2013: (with B. Coles, M. Goodman and H. West) ‘Wrapped and Stuffed: Provocative Misunderstandings of a Theme’ in Wrapped and Stuffed: The Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2012, M. McWilliams (ed.), London: Prospect Books
2012: ‘The Celebratory and the Everyday: Guinea Pigs, Hamburgers and the Performance of Food Heritage in Highland Ecuador’ in Celebrations: The Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2011, M. McWilliams (ed.), pp 12-23. London: Prospect Books
Under Contract: (with B. Coles and M. Goodman), Supermarkets and their Alternatives: The Everyday Politics and Practices of Sustainable Food, E-J. Abbots, B. Coles and M. Goodman (eds) London: Routledge Earthscan
Book Reviews:
2013: ‘Foodscapes, Foodfields and Identities in Yucatán (S. I. Ayora-Diaz)’ in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19: 186-187
2012: ‘A Review of Ritual and Remembrance in the Ecuadorian Andes (R. Corr)’ in Journal of Latin American Studies 44: 811-813
2012: ‘A Review of Coffee and Community: Maya Farmers and Fair-Trade Markets (S. Lyon)’ in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18: 702-703
2010: ‘A Review of Uncertain Tastes: Memory, Ambivalence and the Politics of Eating in Samburu, Northern Kenya (J. Holtzman)’ in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 16: 661-662
2009: ‘A Review of Ethnographic Fieldwork: An Anthropological Reader (Robben & Sluka)’ in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15: 662-663
2014 AHRC Care for the Future ECR Grant for ‘Consuming Authenticity’ (D. Toner, PI; E-J Abbots, A. Martins & A. Charalambidou, Co-Is), £54,742.87
2013 Wenner-Gren Foundation, Workshop Grant, for ‘Embodied Encounters: Exploring the Materialities of Food ‘Stuffs’’(E-J. Abbots, PI: L. Steel & K. Zinn Co-Is), $19,928 
2011 Wenner-Gren Foundation Post PhD Research Grant, US$12,345
2004 – 2007 Doctoral Bursary in Anthropology, Goldsmiths (full fees and maintenance)
2005 Royal Anthropological Institute Emslie Horniman Scholarship; starred Sutasoma award, £5,790 
2014 Food Justice, Workshop, University of Reading, July 16th-17th (Chair and Rapporteur).  
2014 Embodied Encounters: Exploring the Materialities of Foodstuffs, Workshop, UWTSD, Lampeter, May 20th-22nd (Co-Convener with L. Steel and K. Zinn).  
2013: ‘Supermarkets: Critical Approaches’. Workshop, KCL, London, 21st January (Co-convener with B. Coles, M. K. Goodman and H. G. West).
2012: ‘Turning Attention to Eating: Exploring the Theoretical Terrain of Body/Food Encounters in Contemporary Society’ Panel at British Sociological Association Food and Society Conference, 2-3 July (Co-convener with A. Lavis) 
2011: ‘Why We Eat How We Eat: Food Choices, Nutrition & the Politics of Eating’, International Conference, Goldsmiths, in association with SOAS Food Studies Centre, 24 February (Co-convener with A. Lavis). 
2007: ‘Latin America Seminar Series’, UCL, University of London. Autumn Term (Co-Convener with N. Tassi)
2007: ‘Ethnography Beyond Anthropology’, Goldsmiths, University of London, November (Co-Convener C. Siorat and O. Swift)
‘The Embodied Experience’ Workshop, Goldsmiths, March (Co-Convener with C. Siorat).
2013, New and Future Bodies Politic(s): Bodies in the Anthropocene (with M.K. Goodman) Panellist and co-convener for a public event co-organised with Tipping Point, King’s College London, 29th November
2013, Resonance 104.4 FM, The Thread: Invited panellist on a live discussion on the theme of ‘gluttony’, 3rd June 
2013, Feed the Mind Programme, King’s College London: Invited panellist on a public panel addressing the politics of celebrity chefs, 18th March
2013, BBC Radio Wales, Science Café: Interview on horsemeat in the food chain and food preferences, 11th February
Advisory and Consultancy Roles
2014 Member, Review Committee, QAA Benchmarking Statements for Anthropology 
2013-2015 Project Advisory Panel Member, Rural Alliances (European Development Fund Interreg IVb North West Europe). 
Peer Review
• Peer Reviewer, Routledge 
• Peer Reviewer, Ashgate Publishing 
• Peer Reviewer, American Anthropologist
• Peer Reviewer, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
• Peer Reviewer, Families, Cultures and Societies
• Peer Reviewer, Appetite
• Peer Reviewer, Gastronomica
• Peer Reviewer, Anthropology of Food (France) 
• Peer Reviewer, MASKANA, (Ecuador)