Amiel Bize Melnick

Grant Type

Workshop Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Cornell U.

Grant number

Gr. CONF-816

Approve Date

October 1, 2019

Project Title

Bize Melnick, Amiel (Bayreuth, U. of) "Who gets the remainder? The ethics and politics of gleaning"

With this workshop, we focus on gleaning: the widely practiced but long under-theorized right of the poor to take harvest remainders. More than simply the action of destitute people scavenging food, gleaning has been explicitly codified as entitlement and obligation: Leviticus not only entitles the poor to glean after the reapers, but obligates field owners to ‘not reap to the edge’ of their fields, to leave for ‘the poor and the foreign.’ Thus positing the right of the excluded in terms of the leftover, gleaning is fundamentally feudal: it premises aegis and common provision on the basis of changeless inequality; it formulates welfare in terms of an ‘excess’ that must not be recirculated back into homogenous surplus value. Taking this feudal category as a lens onto our late-liberal world, this workshop asks how gleaning persists still today. We invite economic and cultural anthropologists, legal scholars, theologians, historians and food justice activists to discuss such well documented practices as scavenging, moonlighting, hacking, pilfering and coin-shaving with attention to that which is claimed as the leftover. Ultimately, we ask: how do people lay claim to aegis, social provision and their right to a commons today, through and despite dominant liberal idioms of civic equality, lawfulness and smooth circulation?