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Christy Shields

Associate Professor

  • Department: Communication, Media and Culture
  • Graduate Program(s): Global Communications
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  • Office Hours: 
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Professor Christy Shields Argelès is a cultural anthropologist specializing in the study of food and the senses, principally in France and the United States. Christy attended public schools in Winthrop Harbor, a small town in Illinois.  While pursuing her higher education degrees she worked a variety of jobs, from life guard to waitress to substitute teacher to marketing assistant for a perfume manufacturer.  Later, while researching and writing her PhD in Paris, she worked as a history and geography teacher for an international section of a French public high school, research and administrative assistant at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. She also worked as an applied anthropology consultant specializing in food and culture projects and taught language, civilization and anthropology at French and American universities.

Christy was originally drawn to questions of food and diet as a means to deal with a rare metabolic disorder.  Raised largely on industrially produced foods, she first tried to tend to her health by purchasing foods that were low in fat and high in carbohydrates.  In 1990, she moved to the Jura mountains in eastern France for a study-abroad year and encountered a food model built around local foods, taste, cuisine and commensality. To her surprise, her health improved.  This foundational experience set her on a path to exploring the relationship between food and culture as an anthropologist and food studies scholar.

In her PhD research, conducted within the frame of a transnational study co-directed by French sociologist Claude Fischler and American psychologist Paul Rozin, she uses discourse and narrative analysis to examine the relationship between food and identity in France and the United States.  Her article “Imagining the Self and the Other:  Food and Identity in France and the United States” received ASFS’s McIntosh Graduate Student Paper Award in 2003.

Christy first started teaching at AUP in 2001, and became a full-time faculty member in 2012.  Over the years, she has developed, taught and co-taught a range of undergraduate and graduate courses in anthropology and communications.  Because her students are generally engaged in new cultural encounters while at AUP, Christy integrates a wide range of project-based assignments and study trips in her classes.  Students use participant observation, interview and sensory-based methodologies.  They engage reflexively and collaboratively with others in the classroom and in the field.  Students produce fieldnotes, interview transcripts, autoethnographies, ethnographic films and ethnographic case studies.  For Christy, anthropology is at its best when it challenges and transforms students’ preconceptions about themselves, others and the wider world.  AUP (2017) and the Association for the Study of Food and Society (2018) recognized her course “Food, Culture and Communication” and its study trip, The Comté Practicum (described below), for its innovative pedagogy and curriculum. 

In recent years, and in collaboration with AUP’s Civic Media Lab, Christy carried out a variety of collaborative and participatory projects with her students.  These projects, co-produced with artists and filmmakers, use food and cuisine as mediums for promoting self-expression, cross-cultural dialogue and civic values.  The Food without Borders project, carried out in collaboration with Filmmakers without Borders and Maurice Ravel junior high school in Paris, received recognition from the French Ministry of Education when the entire project team was invited to present their film at the “Premier Festival des Arts de la Scène et du Goût” (First Festival of Performing Arts and Taste) in 2018.

For the past decade, Christy has worked with Comté cheese producers in the Jura mountains.  This project began in 2010 as a pedagogical collaboration with Comté sensory educator Claire Perrot.  Christy and Claire developed the Comté Practicum, a study trip for AUP students using ethnographic and sensory methodologies to examine taste and terroir with Comté cheese producers.  Building from these experiences, Christy then carried out interviewing and participant observation research from 2013-2016: first, with the jury terroir, a sensory panel consisting of trained volunteer tasters who meet monthly to describe the tastes of Comté cheese; and, second, with sensory educators who use this same tasting practice to communicate Comté in a range of pedagogical events around France.  In her publications to date, she examines “tasting place” as a transformative ritual practice that tends to the symbolic, social, cultural and political dimensions of sensory perception.

Following a difficult year of illness during the pandemic, when she momentarily lost the ability to sense or incorporate the very cheese that she had worked on for a decade, Christy set aside her article publications and collaborative projects to focus her energies on a book project, entitled Tasting Place in Comté Cheese.  This project brings together her experiences “tasting place” as educator, ethnographer and Franco-American.  Using reflexive, collaborative and embodied approaches, Christy argues that mindful and shared sensory engagements with our foods, when allied with political models aimed at building and maintaining solidarity, are powerful practices for (re)shaping our personal and collective relationship to foods, as well as our foods and food systems.


  • PhD, Social Anthropology and Sociology, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 2012.
  • DEA, Social Anthropology, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 2000.
  • MPhil, Cultural Anthropology and French Studies, New York University, 1997.
  • BA, Political Science and French, Northwestern University, 1992.
  • Diplôme d’Etudes Françaises de l’Université, Université de Franche-Comté, Centre de Linguistique Appliqué, Besançon, 1991.



Madeleine Shorts, 2021-present
A collaboration with film-maker Beth Grannis, and Filmmakers without Borders, Madeleine Shorts is a collection of short food films.  Filmmakers of all levels are encouraged to seek out and collaborate with, film, and interview another person about a memorable food. Educators are encouraged to use a madeleine short project in their classrooms. The site also features Madeleine Short films produced by students in Christy’s courses. 

Cuisiner à Réau (Cooking in Réau), Summer-Fall 2019
Collaboration with two artists from the association La Rutile and incarcerated men and women at the Centre pénitentiaire du sud-francilien in Réau, France on a collaborative project about cooking and eating together in prison.  This project produced a cookbook and an art exhibit, both entitled Salé et Sucré / Sans Forchette, Sans Couteau

Food without Borders, 2017- 2018
Food without Borders is a collaborative ethnographic film project, co-developed with AUP-MAGC student Beth Grannis, and involving AUP graduate and undergraduate students as well as a 6th grade class at a public junior high school in the 20th arrondissement of Paris (Cité Scolaire Maurice Ravel).  Through a series of workshops devoted to film and ethnography, the AUP team helped the 6th graders through a film project devoted to exploring food, memory and identity. 

The Whole Taste, 2016-2017
Collaboration as faculty advisor on a student film entitled The Whole Taste.  Undergraduate students Leyla Halabi (2018), Zoe Zissovici (2017) and Samantha Gilliams (2018) joined the Comté Practicum in 2016, and then again in 2017 in order to carry out an ethnographic film project focused on cooperative production and taste education in Comté.  The film was a finalist at the AgriCulture Film Festival 2017 and the Food Film Fest 2018.


Chapters in Edited Volumes

  • “Tasting Comté Cheese, Returning to the Whole: The Jury Terroir as Ritual Practice”. In Making Taste Public: Ethnographies of Food and the Senses. C. Counihan and S. Højlund, eds. Bloomsbury Academic Publishers, 2018.

  • “The Comté Aroma Wheel: History of an Invention, Ethnography of a Practice.  A Look at the Early Years.”  In Food and Communication. Mark McWilliams, ed. London:  Prospect Books, 2016.

  • “Anthropology on the Menu:  Cultural Perspectives on Food and Taste in Museums.”  In Food and Museums.  Nina Levent and Irina Mihalache, eds.  Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.
  • “Flavor Wheel.”  In The Oxford Companion to Cheese. Catherine W. Donnelly, ed.  Oxford University Press, 2016. (Book is winner of the James Beard Award, 2017)
  • “Alimentation et Identité Nationale:  le soi et l’autre en France et aux Etats-Unis.” In Manger : Français, Européens et Américains face à l’alimentation. Fischler, C. and Masson, E., eds.  Paris: Odile Jacob, 2008.
  • “Célébrer la fin du sevrage:  A propos du texte de Jean-Pierre Winter.” L’art de nourrir les bébés. M. Szejer, ed. Paris: Albin Michel, 2008.


Articles in Journals


Co-Authored Articles in Journals

  • Rozin, P., Fischler, C., Shields-Argelès, C., “Additivity dominance:  Additives are more potent and more often lexicalized across languages than are ‘subtractives’,” Judgement and Decision Making, Vol. 4, No. 6 (October 2009): 475-478.

  • Rozin, P., Fischler, C., Shields-Argelès, C and Masson, E., “Attitudes towards large numbers of choices in the food domain:  A cross-cultural study of five countries in Europe and the United States,” Appetite, Vol. 1, No. 5 (2006) : 304-308. 

  • Rozin, P., Fischler, C., Kabnick, K., Pete, E., Shields-Argelès, C., “The ecology of eating: smaller portion sizes in France than in the United States help explain the French paradox,” Psychological Science, 14, 5 (September 2003):450-454.


Blog Publications


Applied Anthropology Research Reports

  • Qualitative Exploration of Study Trips at AUP, Mellon Grant for Curricular Reform, January 2018.

  • Marc Abélès, Christy Shields and Jade Legrand, The ‘Milk Communities’ Project in Ukraine:  An Ethnographic Approach, Danone Ecosystem Fund, January 2012.

  • Ageing, Food and Health: In-depth Interviews in Berlin and Paris, Centre de Recherche Nestlé, September 2011.
  • Projet K-Way: Le gras, le beurre et la margarine dans le Nord de la France.  Rapport D’Etude Qualitative, Decryptis, Avril 2010.
  • Family and Gaming in France: Topline Report of an Ethnographic Approach, Ethnographic Research, Inc., June 2009.
  • French Consumer Representations of Enriched Foods and Antioxidants, Centre de Recherche Nestlé, July 2008.
  • British Female Consumer Representations of Water, Beauty and Health:  In-depth Interviews in the U.K, Centre de Recherche Nestlé, October 2008.
  • Consumer Understanding of Health Claims in France, Centre de Recherche Nestlé, April 2006.
  • Consumer Understanding of Health Claims in the United States, Centre de Recherche Nestlé, November 2005.
  • Representations de la santé et les sites webs chez les adolescentsAnalyse d’un Groupe de DiscussionEtude fait pour INSERM, December 2000.


Media Appearances

  • Hays, Rebecca.  A Pie to “Defend and Promote”.  Cook’s Illustrated, February 2, 2021.  (Interview)

  • “L’Université américaine de Paris à la fruitière du village”, L’Est Républicain, 01 avril 2019.

  • With Beth Grannis, “Food without Borders”, AUP Magazine, Fall 2018.
  • Interview on the ASFS (Association for the Study of Food and Society) Member Spotlight page.
  • “Le comté comme source de pédagogie innovante”, L’Est Républicain, Wednesday, August 8th, 2018.
  • “Cinéastes sans frontières à la fruitière”, L’Est Républicain, mardi 15 mai 2018.
  • “Quand le comté flatte les palais américains”, L’Est Républicain, jeudi 10 mai 2018.
  • “Anthropologie du Goût: Quand le Comté Devient Plus qu’un Simple Fromage”, Les Nouvelles du Comté, No 100, Hiver 2018.
  •  “Le Comté, créateur de valeurs partagées. Inimitable, Entretien avec Christy Shields”, Les Nouvelles du Comté, No 97, Printemps 2017.
  • “Des cinéastes américains en tournage”, L’Est Républicain, Jeudi 30 mars 2017.
  • “La fruitière à l’heure américain”, L’Est Républicain, Mercredi 29 mars 2017.
  • “Le Comté langue de terroir”, L’Est Républicain, Vendredi 19 avril 2013.
  • “Vie de la Filière:  Quand les étudiants américains passent le Comté au microscope”, Comté website. 5 juin 2012.
  • “Christy Shields:  Une Immersion Bénéfique”, Les Nouvelles du Comté, No 80, Automne 2012.
  • “Food Studies au pays du Comté”, Alim’Agri, Oct-Déc 2012.
  • “Etats-Unis.  Au pays de l’abondance.  Entretien”, Sciences Humaines (Special edition entitled, “Manger, une pratique culturelle”), Vol. 135, February 2003, p 28.
  • “Dis-moi comment tu manges…,” Sciences Humaines, Vol. 133, December 2002, p. 8-9.

Conferences & Lectures

Civic Group Presentations

  • Participation in art exhibit entitled “Salé et Sucré / Sans Couteau, Sans Forchette”  with the association La Rutile and the Centre Pénitentiaire Sud-Francilien du Réau at the Theatre de la Villette from Jan 22nd to Jan 25th, 2020.  Exhibition of artwork created during the collaborative art and anthropology project entitled Cuisiner à Réau (Cooking in Réau).
  • Presentation of the film “Food without Borders” with Beth Grannis (AUP student/filmmaker), Anne Luneau (6th grade teacher), and the 6th grade class from Ravel at the “Premier Festival des Arts de la Scène et du Goût” at the Scène et Table de Thélème, organized in partnership with the French Ministry of Education, March 20th, 2018.
  • Presentation of the films “The Making of” and “Food without Borders” to the Ravel junior high community (administrators, teachers and families).  Presentation carried out and organized with AUP student and filmmaker Beth Grannis, AUP student mentor team, Ravel teacher team and students, February 9, 2018


Conference Presentations

  • “The Comté Practicum: Tending to taste, terroir and transformation in experiential learning.”  Paper prepared for three panel session on Teaching Food Studies: Interdisciplinary and Experiential Learning Approaches.  Perugia Food Conference at The Umbra Institute, June 11 -14, 2020.  (This conference was canceled last minute due to Covid)
  • “Food without Borders/Nourriture sans Frontières”, with Anne Luneau and Caroline Schneider (Ravel teachers), keynote address at the University of Bordeaux-Agen for student orientation week, September 30, 2019.
  • “Food without Borders: A Civic Media and Participatory Ethnographic Film Project”, with Beth Grannis, film and paper presented at The First Annual Food and Communications Conference, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, September 6-7, 2018.
  • “The Comté Cheese Practicum:  University-Business Research Collaborations, Lessons-Learned”, paper presented at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) and the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS), “The AgroEcoProspect: The Politics of Integrating Values, Food and Farming”, Madison, Wisconsin, June 13-16, 2018.
  • “Ethnography and Taste Education in Cooperation with Comté Cheese:  A Cross-Cultural and Collaborative Approach to Food Pedagogy and Taste Learning”, with Claire Perrot (taste educator), Beth Grannis (AUP-MAGC student) and Sam McKeown (AUP-MAGC student).  Interactive exhibit at “Creative Tastebuds: A ‘Taste for Life’ Collaboration”, Aarhus, Denmark, September 4-5 2017.
  • “Tasting Comté Cheese: The Jury Terroir as Ritual Practice”, paper presented at “Stop Making Sense: A Conversation between Sensory and Social Science about Food and Drink”, organized by J. Lahne at Drexel University and the Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, March 10, 2017.
  • “Transformation narratives: Taste, terroir and Comté Cheese”, paper presented at the Deuxième Conférence Internationale d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation, Tours, France, May 26-27, 2016.
  • “The Comté Aroma Wheel: History of an Invention, Ethnography of a Practice.  A look at the early years”, paper presented at The Oxford Food Symposium, Oxford, England, July 3, 2015.
  • French Food Rules, paper presented at the 4th International Critical Dietetics Conference, “Promoting Diversity, Redressing Inequity and Seeking Social Justice”, Chicago, Illinois, August 14-17, 2014.
  • “Tasting Place:  Practicing Taste as a Member of the Jury de Terroir”, paper presented at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) and the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS), “Collaboration and Innovation Across the Food System”, Burlington, Vermont, June 18-21, 2014.
  • “Tasting Comté Cheese:  The Jury de Terroir as Commensal Event, paper presented at annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, “Future Publics, Current Engagements”, Chicago, Illinois,November 20-24, 2013.
  • "Proposing discourse as an analytic frame for the cross-national comparison of foodways", paper presented at “Comparing foodways: a European seminar on approaches to the cross-national and dynamic comparison of eating practices”, organized by the Sustainable Practices Research Group (SPRG), University of Manchester on June 13-14, 2013.
  • “Play vs. Plaisir: Comparative Perspectives on Food Pleasures in the United States and France”, paper presented at Crossroads in Cultural Studies, Paris, July 2-6, 2012.
  • “Les calories, le corps et le contôle de soi : analyse du discours nutritionnel aux Etats-Unis,” paper presented at Le Sixième Rencontre du Groupe de Réflexion sur l’Obésité et le Surpoids, Paris, November 6-8, 2008.
  • “Gastronomic Discourse in Contemporary France”, paper presented at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) and the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS), “Resilient Culinary Cultures:  Disaster, Innovation and Change in Foodscapes”, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, June 4-8 2008.
  • “Lost in Translation:  Le goût et le plaisir selon les cultures,” paper presented at the interdisciplinary conference entitled “Questions du Goût,” organized by the Centre de Linguistique Appliquée of the Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France, April 30, 2008.
  • “Terroir en ville”, paper presented at the conferenced entitled “Tourisme, Terroir et Gastronomie,” hosted by the Université Lumière Lyon 2 and organized in conjunction with Université du Québec à Montréal, Lyon, France, December 3, 2007.
  • “Discours et représentations alimentaires: comparaison France-USA”, paper presented at the European Summer University entitled “Food histories and cultures:  Diverse approaches”, organized by the François Rabelais University of Tours and the European Institute for Food History, Tours, France, September 14-21, 2003.
  • “Imagining the Self and the Other:  Food and Identity in France and the United States,” paper presented at the annual ASFS/AFHVS conference, “Local Democracy: Sustaining Healthy Communities through Ethical, Sustainable Food Systems”, Austin, Texas, USA, June 12-15, 2003.
  • “Food and identity:  a cross-cultural approach”, paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Meetings, Chicago, Illinois, November 19-23, 2003.
  • “Le Soi et l’Autre en France et aux Etats-Unis : Constructions identitaires et modernité alimentaire”, paper presented at an International Symposium entitled « Food, Body, Health», organized by the Centre Edgar Morin and OCHA, Paris, France, September 25, 2002.
  • “France-USA :  le poids de la culture ?”, paper presented with Claude Fischler and Estelle Masson at the “7e Journée Nationale de l’Obésité Infantile”, Paris, December 1, 2001.


Invited Lectures and Presentations

  • "Présenter le goût: l’exemple du fromage de Comté”, presentation at “Médias et médiations de la gastronomie”, research seminar of the Centre d’histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporaines, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin, Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris, December 11, 2018
  • The “Food without Borders” Project, with Beth Grannis and AUP student mentor team, film screening and presentation for the AUP Teaching and Learning Center, Wednesday, November 7, 2018.
  • Food without Borders, with Beth Grannis and AUP student-mentors, film screening and presentation for The American University of Paris, Thursday March 29, 2018
  • Tasting as Transformational Practice: Ethnographic Research and Student Learning in the Field, presentation and tasting for AUP’s Board of Trustees, October 20, 2017.
  • “La roue des arômes du Comté:  Histoire d’une invention, ethnographie d’une pratique”, presentation at “Médias et médiations de la gastronomie”, research seminar of the Centre d’histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporaines, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin, March 25, 2014
  • “Discourse Analysis, Comparative Studies and Food:  A Franco-American Example,” presentation for the Paris Center for Critical Studies, December 1, 2011.
  • “Epouser la cuisine et l’identité française : récits de transformation d’Américaines mariées à des Français”, paper presented at research seminar “Alimentation, corps et santé,” Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, January 16, 2011.
  • “Terroir: The Basics”, guest lecture for Wells College Study Abroad Program, 2009 and 2010.
  • “Modèle nutritionnel, modèle gastronomique”, paper presented at a Round Table Discussion/Debate for the Association de la Transformation Laitière Française (ATLA). Paris, December 4, 2007.
  • “Taste and Authenticity in France and the United States”, guest lecture for the Paris Center for Critical Studies, November 13 and 15, 2007.
  • “’Dis-moi ce que tu manges…’ : Introduction à l’anthropologie du goût,” guest lecture at “Elaborer des projets autour des arts du goût,” hosted by the Lycée Professionnel de Montaleau, Sucy-en-Brie, France and organized by the French Ministry of Education, February 10, 2005.
  • “Let’s Talk Turkey: French and Americans Respond to Food Modernity in Similar Ways”, guest lecture for Paris Center for Critical Studies, March 7, 2005.
  • “Food Behavior Variation According to Culture,” series of lectures delivered at the Université René Descartes, Paris, April 5, 2002 and April 25, 2003.
  • “Dégustation: A Cultural Translation,” joint presentation with sensory educator Claire Perrot, New York University in Paris, October 2000.


Applied Anthropology Presentations

  • Qualitative Exploration of Study Trips at AUP: Highlights, Mellon Grant for Curricular Reform, presentation of study results to AUP faculty at faculty retreat on Experiential Learning, February 26, 2019.
  • Qualitative Exploration of Study Trips at AUP, Mellon Grant for Curricular Reform, presentation of study results to AUP faculty and staff, November 21, 2017.
  • Milk Communities in Ukraine: An Ethnographic Study, presentation to the board of directors of Danone Ecosystem Fund, with Jade LeGrand and Marc Abélès in Paris, France, March 2012.
  • Milk Communities in Ukraine: An Ethnographic Study, presentation to Danone Ecosystem Foundation and Heifer International, with Jade LeGrand and Marc Abélès in Kiev, Ukraine, January 2012.


  • American Anthropological Association
  • Association for the Study of Food and Society
  • European Association for Social Anthropologists
  • Interdisciplinary Institute of Contemporary Anthropology, Paris (IIAC/CNRS)
  • Interdisciplinary research group, Médias et médiations de la gastronomie, Paris

Research Areas

Food, culture and identity; taste and tasting; terroir and artisanal foods; sensory ethnography and collaborative methodologies; cross-cultural comparison; France and the United States.



Awards, Fellowships and Grants


  • The Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), Pedagogy Award for “Food, Culture and Communication” and the Comté Cheese Practicum, 2018.

  • AUP Award for Innovation in Instructional Design for “Food, Culture and Communication” and the Comté Cheese Practicum, American University of Paris, 2017

  • Winner of the “William Alex McIntosh Award” of the “Association for the Study of Food and Society” for best graduate student paper, 2003


Mellon Outreach and Interdisciplinary Teaching Grants at AUP

  • Civic Media Lab Grant, Food without Borders: Using Digital Media and Ethnography to Encourage Cross-Cultural Understanding and Civic Engagement: A Collaboration with Maurice Ravel Junior High School, 2017-2018.

  • Civic Media Lab Grant, The Whole Taste: An Ethnographic Film Project Exploring Cooperative Production and Taste Education: A Collaboration with Comté, 2016-2017.

  • Mellon Grant for Curricular Development, A Qualitative Exploration of Study Trips at AUP, 2016-2017
  • Participant Fellow, Mellon Grant for Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing-Intensive Course Development, 2016-2017


Research Grants

  • Comité Interprofessional du Gestion de Comté (CIGC), Research grant entitled “Goût et terroir: Communiquer les fromages artisanaux: Proposition d’étude ethnographique”, 2015-2016

  • Comité Interprofessional du Gestion de Comté (CIGC), Research grant entitled “Recueillir l’histoire de l’invention de la roue des arômes du Comté: Un projet d’histoire orale”, 2013-2014

  • Observatoire CIDIL des Habitudes Alimentaires, Research grant for PhD research, 2002-2005.
  • Observatoire CIDIL des Habitudes Alimentaires, Research grant for PhD research, 2002-2005.