He-Goats, Dogs, Song-Birds and Golden Fish: Animals and Contemporary Masculinity in Hoi An, Vietnam

10:00 to 11:30
(GMT+01:00) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris

Join this seminar with Nir Avieli on contemporary Vietnamese masculinity.

In this paper Nir Avieli (Ben Gurion University of the Negev) discuss different facets of contemporary Vietnamese masculinity as they are performed and negotiated vis-à-vis different species of animals in the peri urban town of Hoi An in central Vietnam. Based on long term ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Hoi An since the late 1990s, this paper shows how eating, handling, or caring for specific kinds of animals are molded by perceptions of “proper” or hegemonic Vietnamese masculinity: while he-goat meat is consumed for sexual invigoration, dogs may be eaten as a (forbidden) treat, handled as guards, or cared for as pets. Tending song-birds and golden-fish is presented as a practice of self-cultivation. Each species therefore allows for the expression of a different realm of traditional Vietnamese masculinity: the physical, the political and the spiritual. The neo-liberal and consumerist context, however, question the continuity between past and present masculinities.

About the speaker

Nir Avieli is a  professor of anthropology and former president of the Israeli Anthropological Association (2016 – 2019). Nir studies food culture, tourism, gender, and heritage, and has pursued fieldwork in Vietnam, Israel, India, Thailand, Singapore, and Zanzibar.  His books include Rice Talks: Food and Community in a Vietnamese Town (2012, Indiana University Press), and Food and Power: A Culinary Ethnography of Israel (2017, University of California Press).  Nir has published articles on diverse topics, ranging from the politics of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to the role of veganism in forging identity within the African Hebrew Israelite community. Currently he is writing a book on “Food and Freedom: Culinary Redemption in the Israeli Periphery”, and preparing a new research project on Leisure in Greece.

Read more here

Universitet i Oslo: Senter for utvikling og miljø (SUM), Glød