Using a transnational and comparative cultural studies approach, this essay investigates how yogurt, perceived as a strange and foreign food in the early to mid-twentieth-century United States, became localized through intersectional processes of feminization and de-exoticization. In the transition from the 1970s to the 1980s, the dairy industry adopted a postfeminist ethos, which co-opted the hippie and feminist self-care movements that had made yogurt a staple health food outside the purview of the medical-industrial complex and on the margins of the market economy. Increasingly, yogurt was marketed to the prototypical (white middle class) dieting female, expected to discipline her body by consuming pre-proportioned approximations of dessert. The rising popularity of “Greek yogurt” in the early twenty-first century has modified this cultural neutralization by foregrounding a nonthreatening “white” ethnicity—while furthering the feminization of yogurt consumption and obscuring connections to the food cultures of the Middle East.
Live and Active Cultures: Gender, Ethnicity, and “Greek” Yogurt in America
Perin Gurel is Assistant Professor of American Studies and concurrent Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She holds a PhD in American Studies and a graduate certification in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Yale University and specializes in transnational American Studies with a focus on the United States in/and the Middle East. Her work has appeared in American Quarterly, Journal of Transnational American Studies, Journal of Turkish Literature, and elsewhere. Her first book, The Limits of Westernization: A Cultural History of America in Turkey, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press.
Perin Gurel; Live and Active Cultures: Gender, Ethnicity, and “Greek” Yogurt in America. Gastronomica 1 November 2016; 16 (4): 66–77. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2016.16.4.66
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