Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Interdisiciplinary perspectives on identity, food and wellbeing of migrants
Location University Place 4.210
Date and Start Time 08 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
In the context of migration and globalisation, foodways are vital to migrants' identity and wellbeing in the face of movement.This panel draws on diverse approaches and case studies in exploring the link between foodways, health, and emotional wellbeing in the context of migration and globalisation.
21st century conditions of migration and globalisation create hybridised forms of cultural consumption, simultaneously rendering forms of cultural 'otherness' salient. In the study of foodways, the old adage 'you are what you eat' raises interesting questions of identity and consumption in an age of globalisation. In this context - with processed foods ubiquitous, consumers deploying food habits as identity markers, popular interest in so-called 'super foods' and the healing properties of diet gaining mass attention - foodways are a vital means by which migrants maintain a sense of identity and wellbeing in the face of movement.
Classical anthropology emphasised the ritual significance of foodstuffs, preparation and consumption, while material cultural studies highlight the affective qualities of foodways and materiality. More recently, ethno-medicine and ethno-pharmacology have drawn attention to the relationship between culture, food and nutrition in the context of globalisation and mass migrations. The intersection of these disciplines also underscores emotional states, mental wellbeing, and the broader relevance of foodways to recovery from - or continuation of - the trauma of and adaptation to displacement.
Approaching food as 'polysemic' - social process, signifier of difference, ecological resource, sensory experience - this panel seeks to probe the boundaries of medical anthropology, ethno-pharmacology, nutrition, and migration studies in exploring the link between foodways, health, and emotional wellbeing in the context of migration and globalisation. Papers explore a wide range of ethnographic contexts, thematic and disciplinary intersections, addressing the relationship between food, identity, culture, physical and emotional wellbeing, and human mobility.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Left Behind in the Movement for Good Food: Understanding the Repercussions of Migration on Latino/a Foodways and Wellbeing
Drawing upon more than four years of ethnographic research conducted in Seattle, Washington, this paper examines the dramatic changes that immigrants from Latin America have experienced in their dietary practices and the repercussions of these changes on their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Drawing upon more than four years of ethnographic research conducted in Seattle, Washington, this paper examines the dramatic changes that immigrants from Latin America have experienced in their dietary practices and the repercussions of these changes on their physical and emotional wellbeing. For many migrants, their livelihoods as farmers and their participation in place-based food systems strongly shaped their foodways while living in their home countries. Reflecting the priorities of U.S.-based alternative food movements, participants emphasized the importance of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, eating less meat or choosing meat from animals that were raised and slaughtered locally, purchasing foods free of chemicals and pesticides, and avoiding overly processed and fatty foods. Despite these values and priorities, consuming processed and fast foods became more commonplace while living in the United States as access to healthy foods (including foods available in farmers markets and other local food projects) was limited due to high costs and other economic constraints. The narratives gleaned through this investigation illuminate a collective longing for a return to more natural and place-based set of cultural and material food practices as well as to the need for alternative food movements to become more inclusive and sensitive to the realities of migrant populations and others living in poverty.
On the significance of "growing foods from home": food production, identity and allotments in a northern UK city
The paper seeks to explore how diasporic migrant identities are informed by gardening and food cultivation in allotments. It considers the meanings of cultivation, food, body and self, as well as the implications of allotment gardening for the physical and emotional wellbeing of migrant families.
The paper seeks to explore how diasporic migrant identities are informed by spatial practices and memories of traditions through gardening and food cultivation in a Northern UK city. Often understood to denote a preceding process of migration or movement, "diaspora" is used here to also include second generations of migrants who have self-identified links and identification with "host country" and "country of origin". Thus, the project seeks to document, trace and challenge familial histories of movement and settling and the ways in which present subjectivities are constituted through memories of food consumption and production and as well as through current spatial practices around cultivation. In using allotments to "grow foods from home" alongside locally established vegetables migrant families construct hybrid cultural practices in the context of semi-public spaces that allotments provide. Considering the meanings of cultivation, foods, body and self, the paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach to investigate how subjectivities and identities are constructed in relation to food production as well as food consumption and it has a central interest in how allotment gardening practices contribute to physical and emotional wellbeing of migrant families. The paper also touches upon the role of food and its cultivation within wider social networks of migrants and how tradition and cultures are upheld and dispersed through food cultivation.
Social, cultural and emotive functions of food patterns among a group of South Asians with diabetes
Sri Lankans, a South Asian migrant group in Australia, has a high prevalence ratio of diabetes. This ethnographic study shows that despite receiving medical advice, they support food patters and cooking methods that are sometimes considered to be unhealthy by health professionals not only to preserve their identity but also as a way of maintaining a familiarity with what is known that could be rendering a sense of security in a foreign land.
Diabetes is a chronic illness, which is increasing in incidence, especially among migrant groups in developed countries. In Australia this incidence is much higher among Sri Lankan migrants, who have been identified as having one of the highest standardized prevalence ratios of diabetes in Australia. This ethnographic project examined the everyday context of diabetes management of Sri Lankan migrants in Australia. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease and its management is intrinsically related to food. Many aspects related to the type, preparation, and sharing of food is an important way of maintaining Sri Lankan's cultural and ethnic identity in Australia. Bourdieu argues that eating habits 'cannot be considered independently of the whole life-style' and that taste for particular dishes is associated with a range of factors, including the domestic economy, the division of labour between the sexes and the ideas about the body and the effect of food on the body understood by different social groups and classes (1979: 185). This research shows that despite receiving medical advice, recently migrated Sri Lankans support food patterns and cooking methods that are sometimes considered by health practitioners as unhealthy for better diabetes management. They do this not only as a deliberate attempt to preserve their Sri Lankan identity, but also as a way of maintaining a familiarity with what is known, comforting, giving them a sense of security in a foreign land. Sri Lankan migrants' diabetes management enables various distinctions to be expressed along class, gender, and religious lines providing us an important lens to understand the migrant experience.
Tasting the past: tradition and innovation in the culinary culture of Cretan migrants in Athens
Food in the Cretan migrants' culture is examined as a way to manipulate change and dislocation, to reconstruct continuity with tradition and retain bonds with the place/culture of origin. This symbolic process is put in the context of renegotiating power relations between rural and urban localities.
In this presentation we examine the role of food and eating in the Cretan migrants' culture as a way to manipulate change and dislocation, to reconstruct continuity with past and tradition and further to retain bonds with the place/culture of origin. In the Greek context "ξενιτειά" is the counterpart of migration, being a status that can only been compared to the experiences of loss, absence and death. Accordingly, in the case of Cretans living in Athens, the manipulation of what they name "traditional food" in a variety contexts reveals "nostalgia" and the need for "returning to the whole" in Fernandez (1986) and Sutton's terms (2001); while this notion also functions as symbolic delineation of boundaries, reconstruction of identities and a channel for transmitting cultural knowledge. At the same time change/innovation is manipulated and mediated by power of a 'traditional' culinary system, which is strongly embedded in the culture of Cretan diaspora and provides a link between their past and new socio-cultural environment. Interestingly, however, these local symbolic processes resume a different status in light of recent health promotion campaigns about the benefits of Cretan traditional food and Mediterranean diet in general. The resulting 'inversion' of Cretan diet in the Athenian context offers new opportunities for the renegotiation of power relations between rural and urban localities.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.