May 3 Food Studies Job Talk and LUNCH Christy Spackman “In Smell’s Shadow: Materials and Politics at the Edge of Perception”

“In Smell’s Shadow: Materials and
Politics at the Edge of Perception”
Christy Spackman, PhD
Thursday, May 3rd
10:00 am to 11:00 am
LOCATION: 66 West 12th Street, Room 712

Lunch with Faculty and Students
66 West 12th Street, 914

Please RSVP for Lunch to Alexandra Brown

Christy Spackman has a doctorate in Food Studies from New York University. She is
the 2015-2018 Hixon-Riggs Early Career Fellow in Science, Technology, and Society
at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. Her academic work focuses on how
the sensory experiences of making, consuming, and disposing of food influence and
are influenced by “technologies of taste,” her term for the oft-overlooked technologies
and practices used to manage the sensory aspects of foods during production. Her
current book project uses this framework to examine how scientific and technological
innovation have changed the taste of bottled and municipal water throughout the
twentieth-century in the United States and France. Using a historical and
anthropological approach, she shows that these technologies of taste have not only
changed the molecular makeup, and by extension the taste of water, they have also
changed how consumers and regulators across multiple cultural landscapes evaluate
the potability of water. Finding taste is a difficult thing. It does not leave obvious
traceable trails in archives, nor does it leave tangible artifacts. To get at taste, she
trawls through government documents, letters between producers and regulators,
scientific papers, advertising ephemera, and oral histories to get at the moments
where taste is shaped and changed. She talks with scientists and communications
teams to learn how they manipulate and manage the minerals and molecules that
give flavor and odor to the things we interact with. Additional training in molecular
biology, food chemistry, and the culinary arts has allowed her to bridge disciplinary
divides in both teaching and research as she examines the relationships between food
science and technology, government regulations, public understandings of science,
and taste.