Oleo-signs and Quali-signs:The Qualities of Olive Oil Written by  Saturday, 31 January 2015

In a very interesting article published in September 2008, Anne Meneley, Associate Professor of Anthropology in the University of Trent, discusses about the "Oleo-signs" and "Quali-signs"

This article considers the way that a single substance, olive oil, bundles together a set of qualisigns including luminosity, liquidity, spreadibility, durability,capacity to cleanse, capacity to seal or preserve, capacity to insulate, and notably, its lack of miscibility in water. These qualisigns allow olive oil to operate in several discrete religious contexts in the Mediterranean although the interpretations and the specifc qualisigns made salient by particular semiotic metadiscourses are always changing, even though the material substrate remains the same. In contemporary  Western discourses of distinction, the positive qualities of olive oil are not those primarily registered by the ordinary senses of taste, touch, and smell, but rather those that are established discursively by expert opinions of various kinds, which attest to olive oil’s ‘healthful’ qualities.


Read the article here