Commensality: From Everyday Food to Feast

by Susanne Kerner

Since 2004, Susanne Kerner has been Lektor (Associate Professor) in Near Eastern Archaeology at the Carsten-Niebuhr-Section (TORS) in Copenhagen, Denmark (head of section 2005-2010); previously part-time lecturer at Free University in Berlin and several short-term contracts (analysis of archaeological material and field-directorship) for the German Archaeological Institute (DAI). Dr.phil (Craft specialisation and social organisation in the Southern Levant) in 1998 at Freie Universität Berlin. From 1990-1995 director at the German Protestant Institute for Archaeology and History in Amman (Jordan); 1988-1990 assistant director at the same institution. Since 1990 director or co-director of over 10 excavations and survey seasons in Jordan (e.g. “The Desert and the Sown in Northern Jordan (DSNJ)”, Umm Qais, Abu Snesleh).Numerous lectures at international conferences, organisation of exhibitions and conferences (e.g. “Food and Identity” in Copenhagen [with Cynthia Chou and Morten Warmind]; “Climate and Ancient Society” in Copenhagen, “Adaptation of Archaeological Methods in Near Eastern Archaeology” in Berlin). Research focus: social complexity, food and identity, theoretical archaeology, rituals. Teaching: courses on Prehistory and History of Near Eastern Archaeology, Social Organisation, Food, Ritual, Commensality, Gender at undergraduate and graduate level. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications
, Cynthia Chou

Cynthia Chou, Associate Professor with Special Qualifications (Lektor msk), social anthropologist, Head of Southeast Asian Studies, KU-ToRS. She is internationally known for her pioneering study of the life and lifestyles, as well as identity and change, of the indigenous Malays in Southeast Asia. She single-handedly built the Malay maritime life collection for the Singapore National Museum and has published highly cited books in this area which are used by several universities as textbooks. At KU, she initiated and directed several innovative programs of co-operation, both in research and education, with leading international institutions for which she has won various international prizes. Courses that she has been teaching at the University of Copenhagen include “The Anthropology of Food and Eating in Southeast Asia,” “Modernisation and Development: The Human Landscape of Southeast Asia,” and “Introduction to Southeast Asia Culture.” Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications
and Morten Warmind

Since 2001 Lektor (Associate Professor) in Sociology of Religion at the History of Religions-section (TORS) in Copenhagen, Denmark; before part-time lecturer at Aarhus University (1992-1997), Odense University (1990) and Copenhagen University (1992-1995). PhD (“From severed heads to valkyries, studies in the relationship between Celtic and Germanic religions and literatures”) in 1997 at Copenhagen University, Department of Folklore. From 2003-2006 Head of Studies at the Dept. For History of Religion, Copenhagen University; 2006- present Head of Studies for ToRS. Numerous lectures at international conferences. Research focus: Prehistoric religions (Celtic and Germanic), Hellenism (esp. Early Christianity), religious minorities in modern Denmark, religious change. Teaching: Courses on Sociological Method and Theory, Celtic and Germanic Religion, Islam, Hellenistic religions at graduate and undergraduate level. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications
Bloomsbury Academic, 2015
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-0-8578-5680-7 (hardback)

    978-0-8578-5736-1 (paperback)

    978-0-8578-5729-3 (epdf)

    978-0-8578-5719-4 (epub)

    978-1-4742-4532-6 (online)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
  • Published Online:
Collapse All Sections

Throughout time and in all parts of the world, humans have eaten together socially. Commensality, eating and drinking together, is fundamentally a social activity which creates and cements bonds which define our place in society. Covering prehistoric archaeology, to medieval banquets, to the inaugural dinner of the American President to everyday commensality as we eat in our homes, with friends, in religious ceremonies and as a form of political activism, this rich collection provides a unique exploration of commensality. Scholars from history, archaeology and anthropology have long studied the human practices and material culture and artefacts associated with communal eating and feasting, but until now these critical insights have not been presented in dialogue with one another. Uniquely, this book fuses insights from anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, religious studies and literary scholars to introduce a truly multidisciplinary and inclusive survey of commensality to the present day. From the role of drinking in China to religious taboos to ancient cooking practices, this fascinating volume is indispensable reading for students and scholars of the anthropology, history and archaeology of food.