Since I became a sous chef in a 5-star hotel in Southern California, I told myself to forget anthropology indefinitely if I wanted to become a chef in a year or two. It is hard to ignore anthropology in my current job. Besides cooking and eating being social and cultural, cooks having different cultures, and guests exhibiting different tastes, the food I cook always remind me what is wrong in current anthropology and, in general, social theory. I just cannot escape from the things that have preoccupied my mind. So, here I am writing this blog post.
In culinary, like in social theory, the French also dominate. They view cooking linearly from grande (grand) or haute (high) to classique (classic) to nouvelle (new). After reading the translated books by some celebrated French chefs of long ago, I realized that they were no different to the Poststructuralism/Postmodernism texts I have read as far as the organization and presentation of ideas goes. There was uniformity, generalization, and adherence to a goal or a theme. In both writings, I sensed selectivity in their explanations and opinions. What worked were included and what did not were left out.
In Careme's grand cuisine, food was a high art. He elaborately prepared food for the royals and aristocrats. His menus, from start to finish, looked like his goal was to impress. In Foucault's writings, he wanted to be different; thus from the first pages to the last, one can only read Postmodernism. He was also selective. The question that has bothered me is whether this is how culture or society is constructed. Is it also through exclusion or through inclusion? My own experience with my culture, I don't sense any selective exclusion but the opposite. We accept things and let them develop, merge, and evolve. The result is the endless web of things that are overlapping and connected.
I remember a research project in my Urban Anthropology class in college. I started my framework to be Marxist, it ended up to be a potpourri of many theories. My bookish professor said it lacked focus. I stuck to my belief that Marxism was not enough for me to study urban poverty. I just could not ignore my informants' views that they were poor because of their fate and faith, because women had no rights to their bodies, because they had no access to ecological resources, because men did not want to work. I tried class, alienation, and value, I still found them inadequate. I went beyond political economy. The result was a web and a C.
Now I am rekindling my tryst with the web. I am trying to find out the multidimensionality of corruption as a web. In my country, even the Catholic Church supports the corrupt by being passive and indifferent towards corruption or becomes the beneficiary of stolen government funds and donations from the corrupt. Their usual explanation is that Jesus Christ did not refuse what sinners gave him. I guess they just love misinterpreting the poor Mary Magdalene and her vessel of perfumed ointment again and again. In this instance, is theology not relevant in the study of corruption? Can theology explain why the corrupt keep on stealing and lying with their conscience intact? How do theologians view gifts from sins and forgiveness of sins because of gifts? Is the Robin Hood complex theologically justified? I need to answer these questions, considering the flagrant religiosity and the corrupt practices of the oligarchs in my country dominated by Roman Catholicism.