iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Potatoes - Leisure Pleasure

Listen now 30 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Potatoes - Leisure Pleasure

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 17 June 2009

The potato, with just a little bit of milk, can provide all of the nutrients necessary to sustain human life. Its wonderful productivity and the fact that it can be grown in small family plots in urban and rural areas means that, according to Professor Nancy Ries, it provides subsistence when local economies fail and other sources of food disappear.

This fact more than any other explains why Russia, the home of the vast collective wheat farm, increasingly relies on the potato. Nearly half of all agricultural production in the country is potatoes and 90 per cent of that is in small family plots. Is the potato a tool of oppression? Does it perpetuate poverty? Laurie Taylor is joined by Professor Ries and by John Reader, author of The Untold History of the Potato.

Also, Allison Hui from Lancaster University talks about her research into the role of travel in people's hobbies, and how leisure pursuits play an increasing part in global tourism.

  • Allison Hui

    Allison Hui, Phd Student, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University

    'Mobilizing practices: tracing the spatial footprints of enthusiasms'
    paper given at the British Sociological Association's Annual Conference 'The Challenge of Global Social Inquiry', Cardiff City Hall, Cardiff, UK (April 17, 2009)

    Find out more about Allison Hui
  • Nancy Ries

    Professor Nancy Ries, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Peace & Conflict Studies at Colgate University

    Potato Ontology: Surviving Postsocialism in Russia
    Nancy Ries
    Cultural Anthropology
    Volume 24. Issue 2. May 2009 (Pages 181 - 212)

    Find out more about Nancy Ries
  • John Reader

    John Reader, writer and photojournalist. Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at University College London and fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

    Propitious Esculent: The Potato in World History
    Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd
    ISBN-10: 0434013188
    ISBN-13: 978-0434013180

    The Untold History of the Potato
    Publisher: Vintage
    ISBN-10: 0099474794
    ISBN-13: 978-0099474791


The Open University

Open University logo

Analysis and insights related to Thinking Allowed programmes.

Nominations for the Thinking Allowed Award for Ethnography are now closed

Laurie Taylor

A new annual award for a study that has made a significant contribution to ethnography

Free download

  1. Image for Thinking Allowed

    Thinking Allowed

    Laurie Taylor explores the latest research into how society works and discusses current ideas on how…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.