Women, the machine, and valuing labour

Women, the machine, and valuing labour.

Sabine Parrish and Charlotte Hoskins, ISCA, University of Oxford (Anthropology Rising Stars Show Case Series)


Charlotte Hoskins
Manioc Machine: Technologies of Control or Tools of Conviviality?

Charlotte Hoskins is a DPhil student at the Institute of Social Cultural Anthropology, Oxford. Her research focuses on technical processes related to the production of bodies and food, multimodal methodologies, and the ethnographic theory of Lowland South America.

Her talk will review descriptions and interpretations of bitter cassava -- a primary staple food for many Amazonian communities -- and specifically its processing techniques. During cassava processing, cyanide saturated tubers are transformed into nourishing foodstuffs. Within ethnographic literature of Lowland South America this work has been understood as women’s work and analysed as a means of controlling women, as a possible avenue for women to attain prestige, as forming and satisfying oral and sexual desires between the sexes within a subsistence economy, and as making up the very tools for what it means to live well. ‘Traditional’ technologies used for the purpose of cassava processing maintain a remarkable consistency over time and suggest a relationship between them and a particular moral aesthetic. Yet, the recent opening of a ‘Cassava Factory’ in the North Rupununi of Guyana gestures to the potential significance of revisiting the undesirability of the ‘manioc machine,’ and routinization of work.

Sabine Parrish
Better to master the till than the machine: Creating and maintaining gendered work in American specialty coffee shops

Sabine Parrish is a DPhil candidate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford. Her current research focuses on specialty coffee as a transnational commodity-specific consumer culture, standards of connoisseurship, and luxury consumption in emerging economies with an emphasis on Brazil. 

I explore the gendered divisions within the customer-service end of the specialty coffee industry in the United States. Specialty coffee establishments serve high-end coffee that is sourced external to the commodity market, and the purchase of specialty coffee is framed as a more ethical form of consumption. By exploring the intersection of economics and gender within the coffee shop as a site of precarious labour, I demonstrate that women are disproportionately negatively impacted by the practice of tipping within the American service economy, placing the trendy market of specialty coffee within a wider historical context of low-wage labour exploitation. Based on testimony and input from over 400 American female baristas, I take as a departing point the different values and skills associated with two forms of technology within the cafe--the cash register and the espresso machine--to look at the limits of ethical consumption.

International Gender Studies Centre at LMH Seminar Series Trinity2019

Lady Margaret Hall (please see individual seminar entries for room details)

2pm-3.30pm, Thursdays (Weeks 1-8)

Convened by Dr Mar, Sian Crisp and Dr Anne Coles