Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Matter of Taste: On Coloniality of Dietary Discourses in the 18th century Ethnographic Texts from Siberia

Sat1  Apr04:15pm(15 mins)
Turnbull Room


Olga Trufanova1
1 Lüdwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany


The Second Kamchatka expedition (1733-1743) is recognised as the biggest scientific expedition ever organised by the Russian Empire to explore Siberia. Historians and anthropologists also underscore its decisive role in the development of ethnography. Although the expedition was a part of Russian colonial politics in Siberia, the coloniality of ethnographic knowledge that European and Russian researchers produced during or after the expedition has usually been disregarded or even denied. I explore how the image of Siberia as “Russia’s own savage” has been (in)formed by ethnographic descriptions of Siberian foodways. I argue that the descriptions of such mundane practice as eating were a powerful means of constructing emotional boundaries and reinforcing social hierarchies between European, Russian and indigenous bodies. Researchers’ bodies and senses acted as tools for producing ethnographic knowledge and assessing Siberian indigenous cultures. In addition to researchers, however, the agents of taste could as well be Russian settlers, Cossacks, or indigenous societies. Mapping taste and analysing when, why and whose taste was expressed can help understand how borders between Europeanness, Russianness, and indigeneity, as well as civilization and savageness, were constructed. In its turn, including body into the analysis of ethnographic knowledge production is a decolonial step to deconstruct those borders and unpack the “body-politics of knowledge”