You Eat What You Are: Identity Via Cannibalistic Food Ethics In Ying Chen’s Le Mangeur

Julie Lynn Robert


Abstract

Shanghai-born Québécoise Ying Chen focuses her 2006 novel, Le Mangeur, on the ethics of nurturing, locating this key term at the etymological nexus of filiation and nourishment, two recurrent themes in her oeuvre. This instalment in her series of novels about an ambiguously defined female narrator revolves around what proves to be a morbid but still nurturing link between father and daughter. Through the act of the narrator’s becoming food via dysfunctional nurturing—an endogamous, even incestuous, cannibalism—Chen calls to mind debates about modern food politics and situates them on the knife-edge of binaries of self and other, living and dead, human and animal, edible and inedible implicit in questions of food in general, cannibalism in particular, and of the cultural questions of identity inherent to both. By subverting expectations, challenging them by pushing accepted binaries to their illogical extremes and thereby collapsing them Chen succeeds in questioning Brillat-Savarin’s maxim, you are what you eat.

Keywords

cannibalism; Ying Chen; nurturing; Quebec literature; food ethics

Full Text

PDF

References

Anderson, N. 2010, 'The Ethics" of Consensual Cannibalism: Deconstructing the Human-Animal Dichotomy, ' Antennae, vol 1: 6574."

Ang, I. 2004, 'Between Asia and the West: The Cultural Politics of Food, ' Life Writing, vol. 1, no. 1: 14754.

Brillat-Savarin, J. A. 1826. Physiologie du gout ou Mditation de gastronomie transcendante. Sautelet: Paris.

Chen, Y. 1993, Les Lettres chinoises. Lemeac, Montreal. Paris.

Chen, Y. 2003, Querelle d'un squelette avec son double. Boral, Montreal. Paris.

Chen, Y. 2006, Le Mangeur. Boral, Montreal.

Derrida, J. 1991, 'Eating Well, " or the Calculation of the Subject: An Interview with Jacques Derrida, ' trans. Peter Connor & Avital Ronell in Who Comes After the Subject?, (eds) E. Cadava, P. Connor & J.-L. Nancy. Routledge, New York: 96119."

Diprose, R. 1994, The Bodies of Women: Ethics, Embodiment, and Sexual Difference. Routledge: London.

Diprose, R. 1995, 'A Genethics" That Makes Sense, ' in Biopolitics: A Feminist and Ecological Reader on Biotechnology (eds) V. Shiva & I. Moser. Zed Books, London: 16274"

Douglas, M. (ed.) 1984, Food in the Social Order: Studies of Food and Festivities in Three American Communities. Russell Sage Foundation, New York

Finn, S. M. 2011, Aspirational Eating: Class Anxiety and the Rise of Food in Popular Culture, Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Flowers, R. & Swan, E. 2012, 'Eating the Asian Other? Pedagogies of Food and Multiculturalism in Australia, ' Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, vol 9, no. 2. Online, available: http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/portal/article/view/2370 [Accessed 29 March 2013].

Foucault, M. 1997, Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, (ed) Paul Rabinow. New Press: New York.

Goldman, A. 1992, 'I Yam What I Yam": Cooking, Culture and Colonialism' in Decolonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women's Autobiography, (eds) Sidonie Smith & Julia Watson. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis: 16995."

Guest, K. 2001, 'Introduction: Cannibalism and the Boundaries of Identity, ' in Eating Their Words: Cannibalism and the Boundaries of Cultural Identity, (ed.) K. Guest. State University of New York Press, Albany: 19.

Harel, S. 2002, 'Une littrature des communauts culturelles made in Qubec?, ' Globe: Revue internationale d'tudes qubcoises, vol 5, no. 2: 5777.

hooks, b. 1992, 'Eating the Other, ' in Black Looks: Race and Representation. South End Press, Boston:2139.

Heller, T. & Moran, P. 2003, 'Introduction: Scenes of the Apple: Appetite, Desire, Writing' in Scenes of the Apple: Food and the Female Body in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Women's Writing, (eds) T. Heller & P. Moran. State University of New York Press, Albany: 1-42.

Hubbell, A. 2013, '(In)Edible Algeria: Transmitting Pied-Noir Nostalgia Through Food, ' Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, vol. 10, no. 2: in this Special Issue.

Johnston, J. & Baumann, S. 2010, Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape. Routledge, New York.

Johnston, J., Szabo, M. & Rodney, A. 2011, 'Good Food, Good People: Understanding the Cultural Repertoire of Ethical Eating, ' Journal of Consumer Culture, vol. 11, no. 3: 29318.

Kitson, P. J. 2000, 'The Eucharist of Hell"; or, Eating People is Right: Romantic Representations of Cannibalism", Romanticism on the Net, vol. 17, February. Online, available : www.erudit.org/revue/ron/2000/v/n17/005892ar.html [accessed 31 August 2012]."

Leder, D. 1990, The Absent Body. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

Levi-Strauss, C. 1969, The Raw and the Cooked: Introduction to a Science of Mythology I. Trans. J. Weightman & D. Weightman. Jonathan Cape, London.

Lorre, C. 2009, 'Qui dit je" dans Le Mangeur de Ying Chen? Une lecture entre psychanalyse et pense, ' Nouvelles tudes francophones, vol. 24, no. 1: 1930."

Mata-Barriero, C. 2003, 'L'Univers gustative et la construction de l'identit dans l'criture migrante, ' Revue des lettres et de traduction, vol. 9: 291305.

Parsons, T. 1951, The Social System. Free Press of Glencoe, Glencoe, IL.

Probyn, E. 1999, 'Beyond Food/Sex: Eating and an Ethics of Existence, ' Theory, Culture, Society, vol. 16, no. 2: 21528.

Pugh, T. 2008, 'Are We Cannibals, Let Me Ask? Or are We Faithful Friends?": Food, Interspecies Cannibalism, and the Limits of Utopia in L. Frank Baum's Oz Books, ' The Lion and the Unicorn, vol. 3: 32443."

Saint-Martin, L. 2010, Au del du nom: La question du pre dans la littrature qubcoise actuelle. Presses de l'Universit de Montral, Montreal.

Sceats, S. 2000 Food Consumption & The Body in Contempoary Women's Fiction. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Simmel, G. 1994, 'The Sociology of the Meal, ' trans. Michael Symons, Food and Foodways, vol. 5, no. 4: 34550

Symons, M. 1994, 'Simmel's Gastronomic Sociology: An Overlooked Essay, ' Food and Foodways, vol. 5, no. 4: 33351.

Yaeger, J. A. 2004, 'Bach Mai and Ying Chen: Immigrant Identities in Quebec, ' in Textualizing The Immigrant Experience In Contemporary Quebec, (eds) S. Ireland & P. J. Proulx. Praeger, Westport, CT: 13748.

Yue, G. 1999, The Mouth That Begs: Hunger, Cannibalism and the Politics of Eating in Modern China. Duke University Press, Durham, NC.

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM