Today we are going to discuss “eat”, the first topic of “Eat Prey Love”. Or to put it more precisely, we will discuss the questions “why human eat animal flesh, does meat eating matters or not, and how meat eating shaped the human and animal relations.
As usual, our discussion will begin with a warm-up exercise. We have a handout. It is a report from the Economist. It is one of my favorite journals, although usually I don’t agree many of their opinions in every single article. In my view, this report is a best example for us to understand the complexities of meat eating. How about you guys read this report for a few minutes, then we will have a short discussion on it?
As we know from this week’s readings, Chinese has much closer relations with pigs.
(1) home or family
(2) in toady’s mandarin, Meat and pork are the same word
(3) Pig is one of the 12 Chinese zodiac: Any one knows the other 11 animals?
Anyway, let us go back to our discussion on this report.
what is the authors’ argument,?
What is your opinion on this report’s claim?
Why do Chinese have a particular appetite on pork?
Who should be responsible for the destruction of Amazon rainforest and global warming in this respect? Chinese culture? Chinese pigs？Globalization? Capitalism?
What do you think the Chinese or their pigs should do?
2. In the end of this report, the author pointed out “in much of the rich world meat consumption is stable or failing but in the middle kingdom it soars unrestrained” Why？ (20 mins) Let us turn to Marvin Harris’s explanation.
Marvin Harris is an anthropologist. He has published many similar books on culture and food. This book “Good to eat” is the most popular one. Next week,We will read many other chapters from this book, but for today, we only read this “meat hunger.” It is the typical of what I called as scientific historical approach.
So what is his argument on eating animal fresh, or according to him, why meat eating is so important to human? Do you agree with him? I know many of you don’t. How many of you are vegetarians?
3. Joyce E. Salisbury
Is she in the same reasoning line with Harris? What is her approach?
Focus on more symbolic meanings of eating meat
P59, one of the prevailing attitudes toward food may be summarized by the statement “you are what you eat.” –How do you understand this argument?
(The oldest interactions between human and animals are the ties of food.
biological, and communities defined themselves was by what they ate. )
1). the boundaries between human and animals
2.) social and cultural identity of a group
3.) how to define which animal meat is clean or unclean?
P60 Mary Douglas.. we will discuss this topic in details next Monday.
4.) Anything else interesting to you? (such as,the question of whether the risen body was made up of animal flesh converted into human flesh. Salisbury reading that states how worms feed off decomposed humans contradict restriction of eating animals that have eaten other animals.
5.) she also paid some other factor rather culture. For example, why pork was no longer a central portion in European diet from 11th century? (p56) We will talk about this problem in Sam Whites’ article.
Let’s us have a break here.
4. Any of you have tried Kobe Beef? I think it is a good topic about history of kobe beef in the US. Majima mentioned that before 1871, meat eating was illegal in Japan. But she didn’t provide more information about it. Anyone know why meat eating was prohibited in Japan? The answer is: Buddhism. (a very short lecture)
Many of you have noticed that Majiam’s article has a similar cultural historical approach towards to beef eating in Japan. It is another version of you are what your eat.
What is her argument on beef eating in late 19th and early 20th century Japan?
Why in Meiji Japan, eating beef became a popular discourse? What were those social discourses about? What was the role of War in those discourse？
Promoting eating beef, japan could attain the status of a powerful modern state.
What is the role of colonization of Korea?
5.the rest two articles are talking about meat supplies and production. They are my favorite. Sam White’s paper was awarded as the best paper prizes both from the American Society for Environmental History and the Agricultural History Association; William Cronon is a leading environmental historian in this country. He used to serve as the president of the American Historical Association. this book , Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West is nowadays a must-read in environmental history, frontier history or urban history. while the chapter on meat was regarded as the best part of this classic research. I guess, after you have finished these two readings, you might understand why they are so good.
Let’s first discuss Sam White’s paper.
（1） why pigs in Europe and China were domesticated as two different types? Or using his words, genetic and cultural divergence.
（2） Why Europeans wanted to introduce the new pig breed? What were their pressures?
（3） how the introduction of Chinese pigs was related to the so-called “great divergence”
（4） what does capitalist pigs mean in England?
（5） The pigs’ globalization: into a national and international industrial commodity.
（6） What do you think of the role of evolutionary biology?
(Evolutionary history has meant the object of study of evolutionary biologists. As Charles Darwin studied the evolutionary history of tortoises..It argues that humans have shaped the evolution of other species, and that such intervention has significantly changed both human and other species.)
（7） Sam white has a very interest claim in the end. XX can you read that sentence for us? From “in an important sense.” What do you think? Can we human just change animals’ evolutionary process?
（8） Last week, we knew that boars did matter in their frights against people. Can we hear their distant cousin, pigs’voices from this reading?
6. Let’s turn to our last reading.
Why Chicago was called as the Great Bovine City of the World？
Why American bison disappeared in the Great Plains？
Explain how “nature” becomes a “commodity” use eat as an example.
What is the role of technology in this story? Describe three key technological changes and their impact on the meat industry
What does the chapter title "Annihilating space" means ?
How human-animal relations, human life, and animals were transformed by the meat industry?
In conclusion, I think there are several reasons to the questions “why meat eating matters.”
Firstly, according to Marvin Harris, meat eating or eating flesh of certain animals is very physically important for a nutritional reason.
Secondly, meat eating is not merely taking protein; it is also culturally and socially constructed, with symbolic importance to people’s identity, power, and to define the boundaries between human and animals.
Lastly, meat eating is also close related to the more broader environmental, social, political, economic and technological factors, such as land use, , capitalism, industrialization, global market, nation-building, modernity, biology, modern transpiration, and new packing technologies, all of them have not only shaped animal’s life and their evolution, but also changed our ideas and habits towards animal and human-animal relations.