Canning Crisis: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Preserving Things in Jars

Project Details

Description

My grandmother, who grew up to hate carrots during the American Great Depression, canned food because if you grow up during the Depression, you never know when you will be stuck with just carrots. Better to be prepared. My friend, Claire, a fellow folklorist, cans for the zombie apocalypse. If climate disaster occurs tomorrow, our days of preserving tomatoes and trash-talking Foucault will come in handy. Danielle Christenson has written that the modern western canner, mostly middle class and urban, cans out of a sense of connecting to a past they know exists but have little access to except through recipes shared in internet canning groups and for the domestic certitude of all of those jars lined up. Though Shirley Jackson also described such lines of jars in the Blackwood family cellars – beautiful yet full of rot.

Preserving food in jars, making jams, and laying by seek to make objects out of the very thing most defined by its ability to rot, fresh food. These are practices of temporal gymnastics, recalling the past (who really needs to preserve food these days?) to reify the perishable present for an uncertain future. They are practices of aesthetics, containing the sensual. They are practices writ with moral and ethical high ground – canners are prepared, canners re-use, canners are sustainable and environmentally savvy. This paper will look at recipes and accounts of food preservation, both old and new, to explore how canning food invokes the temporal, the aesthetic, and the moral.

Layman's description

This paper will look at recipes and accounts of food preservation, both old and new, to explore how canning food invokes time and concepts of beauty, and engages with larger conversations about ethical responses to climate change.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/03/2228/02/23

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