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MHS Seminar: Christine Knight POSTPONED

May 24, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Title: Culinary capital and culinary resistance in post-devolution Scotland: Whither the deep-fried Mars bar?

Speaker: Christine Knight, Sheffield Hallam University

Date and time:  24th May 2017, 16:00 – 17:30

Location: ICOSS Conference Room


The UK media and popular culture associate the Scottish diet with unhealthy deep-fried foods, with some evidence that this stereotype is part of a vicious circle with negative effects on food practices in Scotland. While media references to “novelty” deep-fried foods linked to Scotland first appear in the late 1980s, the stereotype gained popular traction in 1995, when the British press first reported the deep-fried Mars bar. I explore the intersecting factors that enabled the stereotype to emerge and persist, arguing that the deep-fried Mars bar represents the contemporary manifestation of a long history of food slurs in the Anglo-Scottish relationship (Fraser 2011). As a signifier, it draws on the longstanding stigma associated with the British chip shop and its products (Walton 1992), augmented by emerging consensus about the dangers of saturated fat and its links with heart disease and obesity. Further cultural, social, and political developments intersected in the 1990s and 2000s to fuel the stereotype: heightened attention to serious health inequalities affecting (the West of) Scotland; changing and uneasy sub-state national relationships due to the Scottish devolution and independence movements; and intensifying class stigma in wider British culture (Hayward & Yar 2006). Drawing on key food studies concepts of culinary capital and resistance (Naccarato & LeBesco 2012), I explore diverse Scottish responses to the deep-fried Mars bar, showing that Scottish identity and national aspiration are implicated in positive, negative, and ironic responses to this controversial culinary icon. Analysis is based primarily on Scottish and British media coverage, and an interview study with experts/key stakeholders in Scottish food and nutrition.


Dr Christine Knight is Reader in Food, Society & Culture at Sheffield Hallam University, based in the Hospitality subject group. She previously worked at the University of Edinburgh (2008-16), most recently as Senior Research Fellow in Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, and co-convened the Food Researchers in Edinburgh network (FRIED). Christine currently holds a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Research Fellowship, investigating the relationship between nutrition and national identity in Scotland. She is a visiting fellow in STIS, University of Edinburgh; the Food Values Group, University of Adelaide; and School of Health Sciences, Flinders University; a board member of the Association for the Study of Food & Society; and member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland.


May 24, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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