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Title: The 'other' side of the kitchen : an anthropological approach to the domestic kitchen and older lesbians
Author: Scicluna, Rachel Marie
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis will make an original contribution to the literature on cross-cultural domestic space. It also has ethnographic potential for the analysis of other individuals and groups both within, and across cultures. My specific approach, combining domestic space, namely the ,kitchen, and feminism, sexuality, gender, memory and politics has not previously been undertaken. Feminist literature has largely criticised the domestic unit and domestic labour as being private, gendered, oppressive and endowing women with the responsibility of social reproduction. Kitchen practices, cuisine, and food rituals have been studied and largely articulated as an expression of cultural identity and consumption, gender power relations, technology, class, desire, taste and style. However, such criticism seems to have remained locked in a heteronormative discourse. My approach draws on key aspects of cross-cultural perspectives on social space (e.g. Humphrey 1974, de Certeau 1986, Bourdieu 1990, Carsten and Hugh-Jones 1995, Das et al 2008) often studied beyond Europe. Here, seemingly private 'home' space is problematised within a western metropolis with gendered, historical specificity. The core focus is to illustrate the potential in using the kitchen as a 'spatial category' for conceptualising relationships between groups, kin or otherwise, but also relationships between individuals; different realms of life; and the rationale or logic that informants creatively engage in to make sense of the world. The subjects in this study group were of several nationalities and class origins (British, Irish, Swiss, Scottish, Canadian, American, German-British) and between 45 and 76 years at the time of research. They all identified as lesbians. The research was conducted from an anthropological perspective but required an interdisciplinary approach that included insights from cultural geography, feminism, social gerontology, sociology and architectural history. As my findings suggest, through the kitchen 'spatial' stories narrated by older lesbians, the kitchen emerged as a tangle of cultural norms, customs, duties, ideas, aspirations, expectations, and values that tells about the thinking process and behaviour of a specific society or group of people. In this context, the kitchen brings out the experiences of social inequalities experienced by older lesbians, mainly brought out by the hegemonic institution of heteronormativity and patriarchy. This understanding mirrors the different ideological and political dimensions flowing through the kitchen such as, gender/sexual issues, family dynamics, modernity, urbanism, social contradiction, religion, ethnicity, class, feminism and financial background. Many had to confront the stigma of sexual identity with punitive legal and political consequences, risking even the loss of their children. The domestic kitchen, ostensibly comfortingly neutral and a-political, emerges as a complex and multi-faceted place, where its meaning is temporal, relational and contextual.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available