‘The porcupine was a feast’: The Tastes of Luxury and Necessity in Ruby Langford Ginibi’s Storytelling
Keywords:Indigenous literature, working-class food, working-class habitus, Bourdieu
This paper brings Bourdieu’s concepts of the tastes of luxury and necessity into dialogue with the alimentary habitus that Bundjalung woman Ruby Langford Ginibi records in her lifewriting. The paper argues that Langford Ginibi’s alimentary disposition has much in common with the taste of necessity that Bourdieu attributes to the French working class. The analysis identifies two further characteristics of her relationship to food that Bourdieu does not describe: an emphasis on recounting the adverse material circumstances in which meals are procured and prepared, and a practise of indiscriminate eating in which foods are deemed uniformly and reliably desirable. The paper finds that, despite some public censure, Langford Ginibi maintains much of her habitus as she accrues social, cultural, and economic capital. It concludes that maintaining and valorising the taste of necessity and its associated habitus may be read as a positive strategy that seeks to restructure the colonial field from below.