Commensal Soft Power Tools for Elites in European States: Networks and Dramaturgy between Divergence and Convergence

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Abstract

Focus on the elite tables, following the (luxury) food chain and the networks of the eaters, and study the dramaturgy of commensal micro-politics in order to understand how soft power via feasts and gastronomy, distinction strategies and elite cultures functioned in Europe in the past five centuries (and continue to do so). All this is important in the study of the processes of convergence and divergence as well as trajectories of continuity in eras of rapid change. Actor-network analysis, performance studies and sensitized comparative historical research offer promising tools to demonstrate and explain the relationships between corporeal performances, conviviality and micro-political work, as well as macro-processes outside the black box of elite table culture. The reign of Louis XIV, the Napoleonic era (see Cambacérés, Talleyrand, Carême), or the gastronomy politics in present-day France provide eye-opening examples of yielding and wielding power via tables, discourses and food.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-68
Number of pages19
JournalFood & History
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012

Keywords

  • food history
  • elites
  • culture
  • table
  • commensality
  • UNESCO
  • feast
  • soft power
  • actor-network analysis
  • dramaturgy

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