Tel: +44 02 7636 6970
Fax: +44 20 7679 8632
Senior Research Fellow
Department of Anthropology
University College London, UK (current)
Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship
ESRC Post-Doctoral Research Fellow 2004-2006
University College London, UK
PhD, Social Anthropology
ESRC Doctoral Studentship 2001-2004
University College London, UK
B.Litt, Social Anthropology
Oxford University, UK
Diploma, Social Anthropology
Oxford University, UK
BA, Social Anthropology,
Reed College, USA
PUBLICATIONS – BOOKS
- Lycra: How a Fiber Shaped America, Routledge 2011
- The English Breakfast (Revised Edition), Bloomsbury 2013
- The Pineapple: A Global History, Reaktion 2013
- The Never-Ending Feast: the Archaeology and Anthropology of Feasting, Bloomsbury 2014
- The Hawaiian Luau. University of Hawaii Press, 2015
- Seaweed: A Global History, Reaktion, 2015
- T-Shirts: What T-Shirts Say and Do, Routledge, 2016
SHORT DESCRIPTION OF BOOKS:
Lycra, the stretch fibre invented and developed by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (Dupont) provides a unique lens through which to see changing beliefs about health, medicine, gender, the body and society in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and the book demonstrates how synthetic textiles take on and carry symbolic meaning in complex large-scale cultures just as they do in traditional ones. Focussing on the women of the Babyboomer cohort born between 1945-1965, it throws light on the new midlife, and emerging patterns of wellness and consumption among this demographically and socially significant group.
“There are few better ways to comprehend the dynamic processes of global capitalism as they affect our everyday lives than to follow a designated commodity. Lycra reveals strong, interactive relationships between a technologically innovative textile industry and changing gendered notions of what makes the human body look and feel good.” – Jane Schneider, City University of New York Graduate Centre
This cultural biography of one of the best-known national meals in the world, uses the material culture of food to explore identity and the emergence and embodiment of ‘Englishness’ at a time of sweeping social and political change. It includes three complete facsimile breakfast cookbooks, from the Victorian and Edwardian heyday of the meal, developing the use of cookbooks as key social and historical documents.
'Kaori O'Connor's splendid biography of what she claims is the most famous national meal in the world shows how it came to occupy such a unique place in the nation's heart and stomach...'
‘As O’Connor shows, England boasts a fine tradition of plain cookery, allowed to fall into desuetude in the mid-20th century as a result of wartime rationing…’
- Nicholas Clee, The Guardian
Throughout history, and in all part of the world, feasts, feasting and drinking have been the medium and arena for the display of hierarchy, status and power; the performance of competition and conflict; the negotiation of loyalty and alliances; the mobilisation and exploitation of resources and the creation and consolidation of identity through inclusion and exclusion. Yet until now, there has been no broad, comparative study that draws upon anthropology, archaeology and history to look at the dynamics of feasting across time, cultures and continents in antiquity. While commensality in the classical world and medieval and Renaissance Europe have been well studied, this work looks at feasting in societies of the ancient Near East, Eurasia and the Far East that are less familiar, but which are increasingly recognised as having contributed substantially to world culture including Mesopotamia, the Achaemenid Empire, Egypt, Eurasia, China and Japan. This study throws new light on how and why human history is essentially the story of the never-ending feast.
Poet Charles Lamb described the pineapple as “too ravishing for moral taste . . . like lovers’ kisses she bites—she is a pleasure bordering on pain, from fierceness and insanity of her relish.” From the moment Christopher Columbus discovered it on a Caribbean island in 1493, the pineapple was an object of passion and desire. New World explorers were convinced that it was the fruit with which Eve tempted Adam, and new horticultural techniques were developed to bring it to the table of kings and princes, with the pineapple achieving the elite status among fruits that it retains today. This is an edible history of how the pineapple became a cultural symbol and global commodity.
PUBLICATIONS – JOURNAL ARTICLES
'Who Was...Mrs Exeter'. The Oldie, September 2013, p17.
‘The Ladybird and the Dressing Gown: Cultural Icons of the ‘Golden Age’ of British Childhood’. Textile History 42:1, 2011, pp 22-49
‘The Secret History of the Weed of Hiraeth: Laverbread, Identity and Museums in Wales’. Journal of Museum Ethnography, 22: 2011 forthcoming.
'How Smart is Smart? T-shirts, Wellness and the Way People Feel about Medical Textiles'. Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, 8:1, March 2010, pp 50-67.
‘The King’s Christmas Pudding: Globalisation, Recipes
and the ‘Commodities of Empire’. Journal of Global History, 2009 4(1),
pp. 127–155, 2009
‘The Hawaiian Luau: Food as Transgression, Transformation, Tradition and Travel’. Food, Culture and Society, 11(2), June 2008, pp. 149-172. Winner of the Sophie Coe Prize in Food History 2009.
‘Beyond Exotic Groceries: Hidden Commodities of Empire and their Contribution to Globalisation’. Commodities of Empire working paper, online, going up on the Commodities of Empire site December 2008.
Kitsch, Tourist Art and the Little Grass Shack in Hawai’i. Home Cultures Vol 3 Issue 3: pp 251-272. 2006
Eggs and the English Breakfast. Proceedings of the Oxford Food Symposium 2006
Material Culture, Capitalism and Social Change at Home. Anthropology Matters, Volume 2. November 2004.
PUBLICATIONS – CHAPTERS IN BOOKS
‘The Handmaid’s Tales: History, Anthropology, Archaeology and Material Culture’ In Riello, Giorgio and Anne Gerritsen. (eds) 2014. Writing Material Culture Histories. London, Bloomsbury
‘Beyond ‘Exotic Groceries’: Tapioca-Cassava-Manioc, a Hidden Commodity of Empires and Globalisation’ In Curry-Machado, J. (ed) 2013 Global Histories, Imperial Commodities, Local Interactions. London, Palgrave Macmillan
"Invisible Foodscapes: Into the Blue' in Abbotts, Emma-Jayne and Anna Lavis (eds) Why We Eat, How We Eat. Ashgate, 2013, Forthcoming
'Imagining and Consuming the Coast: Anthropology, Archaeology, "Heritage" and "Conservation" on the Gower in South Wales'. In Janowski, Monica and Tim Ingold (eds): Imagining Landscapes: Past, Present and Future. London, Ashgate, 2011
‘Cuisine, Nationality and the Making of a National Meal’ In François Gemenne and Susana Carvalho (eds), Nations and Their Histories: Constructions and Representations Palgrave Macmillan, 2009
‘The Body and the Brand: How Lycra Shaped America’. In Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture and Consumers. Edited by Regina Blaszczyk. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadephia. November 2007.
The Other Half: The Material Culture of New Fibers. In
Clothing as Material Culture. Kuechler, Susanne and Daniel Miller (Eds).
Berg, Oxford and New York. 2004.
AWARDS AND RESEARCH GRANTS
- Institute of Making Grant 2014
Dr Kaori O'Connor has won a grant from the Institute of Making to develop an interdisciplinary project on cleaning materials in collaboration with UCL Chemistry and UCL Chemical Engineering.
- Pasold Prize 2011
Dr Kaori O’Connor has been awarded for the best paper published in Textile History during 2011, for the paper 'The Ladybird and the Dressing Gown: Cultural Icons of the 'Golden Age' of British Childhood'
Sophie Coe Prize in Food History (2009)
Dr Kaori O’Connor has been awarded the Sophie Coe Prize in Food History 2009. This international prize is awarded annually in memory of Sophie Coe, the distinguished culinary historian and food anthropologist who died in 1994. The competition is specifically for original and substantial essays, articles or papers on food and is presented at the annual Oxford Symposium on Food. Dr O’Connor’s winning paper ‘The Hawaiian Luau: Food as Tradition, Transgression, Transformation and Travel’, which the judges described as ‘a superb piece of scholarship’, is published in Food, Culture and Society 11(2), pp 149-172.
- UCL 2008 Research Challenge Award (2008)To develop major research project on wills and probate in everyday life.
- ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship (UK) (2004-2006)
- Hagley Museum/Center for the History of Business, Technology and Society, (USA), Research Grant 2004
- Pasold Fund for Textile Research, (UK) Research Grant 2003
- Hagley Museum/Center for the History of Business, Technology and
- Society, (USA), Research Grant 2002
- ESRC Doctoral Fellowship (UK) (2001-2004)
- BBC2 - Great British Sewing Bee: Lycra. March 2014
- BBC, Hairy Bikers series, Eggs, January 2013
- BBC2, Breakfast Cereals, in Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with Clarissa Dickson-Wright, November 2012
- BBC2 The Great British Bake-Off, September 2012, on American Pies
- BBC Radio Four, Woman's Hour with Jenni Murray, interview on Lycra
- April 21 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b010dstn
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation, interview on Lycra with Paul Comrie Thomson
- May 2011, http://www.abc.net.au/rn/counterpoint/stories/2011/3207814.htm
- BBC Radio Manchester, September 20th, on babyboomers, Jane Fonda and midlife fitness.
- BBC 2, 6-part television series The Great British Bake-Off, August-October 2010, speaking on the symbolism of food.
- Society, aging and wellness: the Babyboomer cohort and the new Midlife
- Law and social process in everyday life
- The social implications of new materials, technologies, fibers and textiles.
- The anthropology of food.
- Heritage and identity.
- Polynesia: Hawaiian anthropology, ethnohistory and contemporary culture.
- The material culture of childhood.
- Cultural biographies of commodities, brands and the commodities of empire
- Marine Resources
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
Law and Social Process in Everyday Life: developing major research project on wills, probate and the changing socio-legal landscape in Britain today, supported by a UCL Research Challenge Award 2008.
Food Futures: ongoing research project investigating the production, consumption and ecologically-friendly development of previously overlooked indigenous foods as additions and supplements to the mainstream diet in the UK and Europe, as a benefit to the environment generally, to human health, and to local/regional economies.
Research in the other areas of interest is ongoing, including collaborative projects with the Commodities of Empire Working Group.
RECENT CONFERENCE PAPERS
'The Hawaiian Luau and Sustainability'. Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, System and Taste, Food in postcolonial Hawaii. March 2014
'Banqueting and Drinking in Heian Japan' in Credos Provocation - Feasting and Drinking, 14 March 2014, UCL
'Food As Material Culture'. Diwylliant Pethau, Material Culture Conference, Trinity St David's, 25 May 2011.
'The Return of the Burn: The New Midlife Exercise'. British Sociological Association Annual Conference, April 2011, LSE.
'Lycra, Health and the Body'. Fabricating the Body, Wellcome Trust/Pasold Research Fund Conference. University of Exeter, April 2011.
'Invisible Foodscapes - Into the Blue'. Why We Eat How We Eat: Food Choices, Nutrition and the Politics of Eating. Goldsmiths/SOAS joint Conference. February 2011.
'Water, Water Everywhere" - Thalassophobia, Thalassotherapy, Food, Medicine
and the Environment.' Potent Substances: on the Boundaries Between Food and Medicine', Wellcome Conference, 13-15
September 2010, London.
Cockles, ‘Conservation’ and the Contested Coast
of Wales. Anglo-American Conference of Historians, London, IHS, July 2010.
'Tapioca: the Hidden History'. American Anthropological Association 2009 Conference, Philadelphia. In 'The Worst Plant in the World' panel (Invited Session), discussant Sidney Mintz. December 2-6th, 2009
'Untangling Seaweed: Globalisation, Material Culture and Connecting Histories of Medicine'. International Conference on the History of Medicine and Global Connections, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, June 18th-20th 2009.
'The View from the Beach: Awakening 'Hiraeth' and Weaving Imaginaries on the Gower in Wales'. ASA 2009, Bristol.
'Seen From the Sea" Coastal Culture and Cuisine in the Imagining of Wales'. Travellers to Wales Conference, Aberyswyth, April 2009.
'Wales, Laverbread and Identity'. Given at the Museum Ethnographers Conference, Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford, April 2008.
The Dressing Gown: the Making of a Cultural Icon during the ‘Golden Age’ of British Childhood. Given at the Clothing Childhood: Fashioning Society two day international conference, Foundling Museum, London WC1, January 2008
The Hawaiian Luau: Tourism, Material Culture and the Anthropology of Food. Given at Things That Move: The Material World of Tourism and Travel conference, Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change, Leeds Metropolitan University, 19-23 July 2007.
The King’s Christmas Pudding and the Commodities of Empire. Given at the first Commodities of Empire workshop, London, July 2007.
The Sacred Feast: Gods, Power and Food Taboos in Hawai’i. Given at the Managing Sanctity/Pacific Islands Conference at the British Museum, in conjunction with the British Museum’s Taboo and Power Exhibition, December 2006.
Two T-Shirts: What People Think About the New Smart Textiles. Given at the New Fabric of Social Life/Pasold Workshop, September 2006
The Orientalist’s Cookbook: Interrogating Cosmopolitanism Through Cuisine in the Post Postcolonial. Given at the Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA) Conference, 2006.
Producing Fashion: Lycra, Babyboomers and the Anthropology of Fashion. Given at a two-day conference on Producing Fashion, held at Hagley/Center for the History of Business, Technology and Society, October 2005
Cuisine, Nationality and the Making of a National Meal: The English Breakfast. Given at a two-day conference, Nations and their Past, the 16th annual ASEN March 2005(Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationality) conference, held at LSE. The paper was featured by The Higher.
Where’s My Magazine? Why Babyboomer Women Have Nothing to Read. Given at the annual conference of the British Society of Gerontology (BSG), Keele, July 2005
Working it Out with ELSA and Jane: Babyboomer Women, Consumption and Exercise. Given at the annual conference of the British Society of Gerontology, Keele, July 2005.
Magazines and Midlife Women in Britain Today. Given at the first Anthropology of Britain (AOB)workshop, University of Surrey, January 2005.
CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS AND PANELS ORGANIZED
with Sarah Byrne of 'Feast and Famine: Exploring Relationships with
Food in the Pacific', Inaugural Conference of the Pacific Islands
ResearchNetwork (PIRN), held at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, 7-8 September 2012.
‘Clothing Childhood, Fashioning Society: Children’s Clothing in Britain in the Twentieth Century’.
Co-Convenor: ‘Culinary Tourism and the Anthropology of Food.’
Panel for the Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA) 2007 conference, London.
Co-Convenor: ‘The New Fabric of Life: Textile Technologies in Contemporary Society.
Interdisciplinary Workshop on the Social Implications and Applications of New Textile Technologies and Fibres’.
Sponsored by the Pasold Fund for Textile Research.
UCL Anthropology, 14 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 8633