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Undergraduate course

Current Anthropological Research: Schnitzel in a Pita with Hummus: The Anthropology of Israeli/Palestinian Food

Main content

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Teaching semester


Objectives and Content

This course gives a comprehensive introduction to a specific area of contemporary anthropological investigation. Current research trends and recent theoretical developments are explored through critical discussions with emphasis on anthropology's evolving engagement with the selected field. The course offers a unique opportunity to be acquainted with diverse aspects - methodological, epistemological and theoretical - of the research process, aspects that lie at the very basis of anthropological analysis and practice, and of ethnographic production.

Theme Spring 2023

Food is a vital human need, essential for our physical survival. Food is also a most perfect cultural artifact, the product of a complex differentiation process in which wheat grains are turned into French baguettes, Chinese dumplings or Italian pasta, that represent our social, religious and national identities. "Our food" is therefore a most powerful collective symbol, while "their food" is often looked down upon, ridiculed and stereotyped. French Gastronome Brillat-Savarin's well-known aphorism "Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you who you are", is a central pillar of this course, in which we will acquire the main theoretical and methodological tools for the ethnographic study of food and approach the culinary sphere as a cultural arena where complex negotiations over class, gender and ethnicity emerge. The reading list includes some of the most important anthropological texts on food, as well as articles and chapters that focus on the food and foodways of Israel/Palestine.

What is Israeli Food? How do Israelis eat? How is Israeli food different from the Palestinian cuisine? and what can we learn from these culinary practices about "Israeliness"? We will address these questions and explore nationalism, ethnicity, religion, gender and class in Israel from the unusual and intimate culinary perspective. We will follow the social history of dishes such as Hummus and Falafel, discuss the cultural meanings of Jewish and Muslim religious dietary laws, learn about unique Israeli foodways such as its Independence Day BBQ, and wonder why Israelis accuse Thai migrant workers of eating their pet dogs. We will deal specifically with the strained culinary relations between Israelis and Palestinians and between Jews and Arabs.

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


  • provide an overview of the field of study addressed in the course, with particular reference to its history and theoretical and methodological debates in social anthropology


  • explain the current state-of-art of research in the field of study addressed in the course
  • explain the various methodological and theoretical considerations that must be taken in order to further develop the field of study

General competence

  • apply key concepts and perspectives from the course and its field of study independently, in the understanding and analysis of local and global processes
  • apply an understanding of the correlation and difference between empirical data, theory and analysis in text production

Required Previous Knowledge


Recommended Previous Knowledge

Introductory courses in Social Anthropology

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap


Access to the Course

Open to students at the University of Bergen

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, seminars, field trip, presentations

2-4 hours per week 5-10 weeks, 12-16 hours in total

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

The following will be mandatory spring semester 2023:

  • Attendance of at least five of six lectures
  • Attendance of fieldtrip to Bergen's culinary sphere
  • Submission of field report (500-600 words)

Only with an approved compulsory activity will students be allowed to take the exam.

Approved compulsory activity is valid for 1 semester.

Forms of Assessment

Take home exam, 5 days. Words: 3000 (+/- 10 %)

Grading Scale

Grading A-F

Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester

Reading List

The reading list will be ready before 1 December for the spring semester

Course Evaluation

All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses

Course Administrator

Department of Social Anthropology at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.


Department of Social Anthropology


Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Take-home exam

    Assignment handed out
    17.04.2023, 09:00
    Submission deadline
    21.04.2023, 14:00
    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam