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Mothers and Food: Performing the Family Mealtime


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Mothers occupy a gendered world of food in which they are now (often solely and privately) responsible for food provision and preparation for their families in the privacy (or isolation!) of the own home (c.f., Kinser, 2012). Meanwhile, the importance of eating together around the table is lauded in popular media and scholarly research. As mothers and critical thinkers, Lamdin-Hunter and Dey are daily confronted with the nutritional and social needs of their families and children, and also grapple with concern for worldwide issues of food, poverty and the environment. They believe many homes are sites of a critically-reviewed performance of meal planning, delivery and disposal. While "successful" meal performance is critiqued by social researchers as well as families, the question of whether family mealtimes are really the stock-standard answer to delinquency, obesity and mental ill-health, goes undisturbed. In Aotearoa New Zealand the following two themes are most readily noticeable to these ethnographers: first, the "frequent family dinners'" discourse featured in family health research and critiqued by Amber Kinser, and second, the "consumer choice" ethos featuring the theme of family (maternal) choice regarding the purchase and preparation of food lauded as cheap, convenient, healthy, organic, whole or locally-produced. They argue that the notion of individual selection relating to such movements may individuate and privatize societal and institutional (even global) food issues. In this chapter Lamdin-Hunter and Dey explore and critique these discourses in the context of maternal performances of family food, contemplating their homes and dinner tables with readers.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mothers, mothering, children, food, mealtimes, consumer, food preparation, food scarcity, parenting, families, performance
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology. Visual Ethnography
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Health & Social Practice
Depositing User: Rachel Hunter
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2017 22:39
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 04:37

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