Nir Avieli, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Nir Avieli is a cultural anthropologist and a senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben Gurion University, Israel. Nir is mainly interested in the anthropology of food and in the anthropology of tourism. He has been conducting ethnographic research in the central Vietnamese town of Hoi An since 1998. His book, Rice Talks: Food and Community in a Vietnamese Town (2012, Indiana University Press) is a culinary ethnography of Hoi An. Currently he is a visiting Israel Institute Professor at Middlebury College, where he is completing a manuscript on “Food and Power: A Culinary Ethnography of Israel.”



“No Roi (already full)”: Dealing with Food Insecurity in Contemporary Vietnamese Rituals

Food insecurity has long been a fact of life in Vietnam, and in response, the Vietnamese have devised elaborate mechanisms of food sharing in public rituals. Vietnamese life cycle events involve sumptuous feasts that are nutritionally structured in opposition to daily meals. While these events are organized around social hierarchies that privilege the elderly and the male, those of higher social status must refrain from using their privileged access to food if they wish to retain their elevated social position, an example of what James Anderson labels “economy of prestige.” This paper—based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the Central Vietnamese town of Hoi An since 1998—presents the ethnography of eating etiquette, social structure, and these mechanisms of food distribution, arguing that they might be an effective way of dealing with food insecurity.