Anxious Ethnography, Abject Resistance
Expired Europe: Consumption, Waste, and Crisis in Spain
Categories: General

Looks at the production of moral panic related to the consumption of discarded food in Spain. As “average” Spanish populations are seen engaging in “savage” economic practices, the framework for condemning non-market provisioning as criminal or pathological is no longer tenable. When Spaniards take on the scavenging practices associated with migrants and the “socially excluded,” their degradation is recruited as evidence of systemic breakdown. For the activist project Food Not Bombs Barcelona, the contradiction between rising food insecurity and a persistent food surplus offers an opportunity to question how the sensory experience of public space is sanitized and mediated: what can be tasted, smelled, touched, and who gets to decide. In cleaning, sorting, and cooking food rescued from city dumpsters, activists are helping to feed a growing number of hungry while challenging the logic by which food that is nutritionally sound is made to waste in times of rising need. Drawing on participant observation recycling food in Barcelona, the paper analyzes the legal mechanisms used to counter unruly food practices and reinforce cultural notions of order. It considers recent news coverage that marshals images of the “savage economic slot” to produce narratives of economic crisis (Narotzky 2012) and the ways those interventions have sought to legitimize the mediating role of a capitalocentric state (Gibson-Graham 2006).

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