Diasporic Foodways: Transnational Constructions and Connections in Cultural, Economic, and Environmental Perspective
This working group will build on and expand the discussions at the conference Foodways: Diasporic Diners, Transnational Tables, and Culinary Connections (4-7 October 2012). Recongnizing that culinary culture is central to diasporic identifications, the working group's monthly meetings will examine the place of food in the enduring habits, rituals, and everyday practices that are collectively used to produce and sustain a shared sense of diasporic cultural identity. Most cultural groups integrate food into their concepts of health, illness, and recovery, and at this level, ritual, identity, biology and medicine converge. Global diasporas send foods into new areas with immediate economic and environmental results that are further complicated by the competing demands of food producing/trading multinationals on one hand and the local food movement on the other. At a popular level, diasporic groups often make food a central part of their 'essential' identity. Our seminar will explore how identities are constructed through cultural, economic, environmental, and biological exchanges.
Each seminar will bring together multidisciplinary participants to explore the interplay of food, identity and subject formation, environmental effects, and global food economics. We will also invite practitioners (chefs, growers, marketers) to key seminars in order to discuss how producers, purveyors, and preparers of food become vital agents shaping practices, constucting identities, handling differences, and negotiating convergences in diasporic communities. All participants conduct research in issues of food, diaspora, and identity. The working group will direct some efforts to generating curricular materials which will be posted on the website of the Foodways conference, which will be an ongoing and active research tool.
Lead: Nicholas Terpstra, History