Special Issue "Food, Culture, and Heritage. Identity Formation through Eating Customs"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (16 February 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Francesca Muccini

Associate Professor, Department of Foreign Languages, Belmont University, 1900 Belmont Blvd, Nashville, TN 37212, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 615-438-6664
Interests: food and identity; migration literature; Italian-American literature; Renaissance Italy; Italian language; L2 pedagogy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Food and foodways have attracted the attention of many scholars, particularly in the last decade. The fungibility, along with the ubiquity of food, in individual or social life makes it more than “just” food. It exists, in fact, within a complex network of social, cultural, and economic relations. It permeates a wide range of media: from film, TV shows, literature, to new media (blogs, Internet, YouTube, etc.). Recently, food studies have gained academic respectability, becoming an essential issue of scrutiny within disciplinary contexts. One major, though by no means exclusive, focus of this volume is how do we benefit from a better understanding of food and foodways?

Food features in our daily lives in innumerable ways. A diet expresses ethnic, cultural, religious, and class association; it establishes gender roles; it is essential in rituals and customs; and it explicates diverse behaviors, aspirations, and ideas of selfhood. Ceremonies and rituals in particular often include food (lamb for Easter, Passover seder plate, birthday cakes, etc.), representing and expressing significance in a distinctively aesthetic fashion. Food preferences are not fixed at birth; it is possible for our food inclinations to change in a matter of minutes, as the result of sensitive changes in our internal state. Often, we develop love, dislike, or aversion to certain foods just because they are linked to happy or unpleasant experiences. Essentially, our food preferences are flexible and can be altered as we associate them with types of environments and circumstances. An aroma, a whiff, a texture, or a color may offer a glimpse into a moment from the past.

Food and eating, as Sarah Sceats observes, “are essential to self-identity and are instrumental in the definition of family, class, and ethnicity” (1). How do food and culture inform one another? Is it possible to gain greater insight into a culture through its food? As suggested by David M. Kaplan, “food taps pleasure and anxiety, memories and desires, attachment or alienation from our heritage. It does not determine an identity, but it is a marker of identity” (18). Food choices and dietary likings are indeed a part of who we are individually and collectively.

The terms “authentic” or “authenticity” often recur when speaking of food, particularly of ethnic food, but what does “authentic” food mean to someone who is an outsider to that national or cultural community? What are the politics of claiming authenticity, of speaking from a position of knowledge and authority, to define the legitimacy of a particular cultural production? What does it mean to speak of the authenticity of culinary practices when traditions within all cultures are constantly changing?

There have been periods of aversion and periods of toleration towards ethnic identities, as well as towards ethnic foodways. Many of the vast numbers of immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century were forced to learn American cooking techniques as part of the government’s acculturation policy. The acceptance and toleration of immigrant food increased in America particularly during times of war when immigrants’ food helped solve food crises caused by shortages and the rationing of food supplies. Donna Gabaccia, in We Are What We Eat, reminds us that, “to prevent Americans from suffering protein and wheat shortage, the government distributed foreign recipes that were both rich and meatless” (137). Even though it began as a necessity, Americans eventually voluntarily embraced ethnic food: spaghetti, pasta, baked beans, and eggplants were incorporated in the average American diet. Today, it is evident that immigrants continue to bring their food traditions to the U.S., raising the quality and choice of foods people eat. In the past thirty years or so, the proliferation of ethnic restaurants throughout America, even in places far from urban centers of immigration, has brought many new tastes. This is certainly a positive thing, as Americans who might not have the desire or means to travel the world are introduced to new worlds through food.

This Special Issue of Humanities invites authors to analyze and discuss topics, including, but not limited to, food, foodways, ethnic food, food habits, taste, identity, memory, heritage, food and philosophy, cooking, hunger, food ethics, food production, sustainability, food as culture, nutrition, spirituality, risk, food aesthetics, vegetarianism, veganism, food politics, globalization, acculturation, and authenticity. Of course, there is much more to the topic of food than the issues outlined above. I probably left out more than I included, but, fortunately, the contributors to this collection will make up for my omissions. Interdisciplinary approaches are particularly welcome.

Dr. Francesca Muccini
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

References:

Allhoff, Fritz and Dave Monroe, Food and Philosophy, Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

Belasco, Warren, Food: The Key Concepts, Bloomsbury Academic, 2008.

Bendix, Regina. In Search of Authenticity. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1997.

Crowther, Gillian, Eating Culture: An Anthropological Guide to Food, U of Toronto P, 2013.

Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe, Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food, Free Press, 2002.

Gabaccia, Donna. We Are What We Eat: Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans, Harvard University Press, 2000.

Heldke, Lisa and Deanne Curtin, Cooking, Eating, Thinking: Transformative Philosophies of Food, Indiana UP, 1992.

Kaplan, David M., Philosophy of Food, Berkley: U of California P, 2012.

Korsmeyer, Carolyn, Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy, Cornell UP, 2002.

Mariani, John, How Italian Food Conquered the World, St. Martin’s Press, 2011.

Montanari, Massimo, Food is Culture, Columbia UP, 2006.

Rosaldo, Renato. Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis. Boston: Beacon P, 1989.

Sceats, Sarah. Food, Consumption, and the Body in Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.

Keywords

  • Food, Foodways
  • Ethnic Food
  • Food Habits
  • Taste
  • Identity
  • Memory
  • Heritage
  • Food and Philosophy
  • Cooking
  • Hunger
  • Food Ethics
  • Sustainability
  • Food as Culture
  • Food Aesthetics
  • Food Politics
  • Acculturation
  • Authenticity

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Paolo Mantegazza as Didatic Gastronome: Food, Art, Science and the New Italian Nation
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 26; doi:10.3390/h5020026
Received: 18 February 2016 / Revised: 16 March 2016 / Accepted: 9 April 2016 / Published: 4 May 2016
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Abstract
It is in Risorgimento Italy that there is an incessant quest for a definition of what it means to be Italian amongst a reality of economic paucity and clear social divisiveness. During this tenuous yet crucial epoch, there is a cohesive attempt to
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It is in Risorgimento Italy that there is an incessant quest for a definition of what it means to be Italian amongst a reality of economic paucity and clear social divisiveness. During this tenuous yet crucial epoch, there is a cohesive attempt to define Italian taste with an ideological terminology previously absent from sensorial and aesthetic discourse. A fundamental purveyor of this novel approach is the self-defined “poligamo delle scienze,” Paolo Mantegazza. To the plurality of roles attributed to the medic (anthropologist, pathologist, senator, writer, etc.), there is one yet to be explored—Mantegazza as didactic gastronome. In the attempt to combat what he considers the anti-hygienic conditions plaguing the nation, the medic inaugurates a pedagogic process that would ideally lead to the formation of the Italian citizen. With the goal of creating a stronger and more capable Italian populace, the author goes to great lengths to provide guidelines for maximizing nourishment through the humblest of foods. Ultimately, Mantegazza’s pedagogic gourmandism is integral in the propagation of a social model of comportment that defines the Positivist framework of biological and nationalistic renewal and to a new vision of taste. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Sociocultural and Economic Evolution of Mansaf in Hartha, Northern Jordan
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 22; doi:10.3390/h5020022
Received: 15 February 2016 / Revised: 24 March 2016 / Accepted: 24 March 2016 / Published: 21 April 2016
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Abstract
Food and cooking techniques play key roles in preserving cultural sustainability and individual identity. Everything people eat becomes a part of not only their biological being, but also represents and identifies a part of a community’s sociocultural fabric. Using the loom approach, a
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Food and cooking techniques play key roles in preserving cultural sustainability and individual identity. Everything people eat becomes a part of not only their biological being, but also represents and identifies a part of a community’s sociocultural fabric. Using the loom approach, a new model to heritage interpretation, this paper intends to examine the sociocultural and economic dynamics during the preparation, cooking, and eating of mansaf—Jordan’s national dish—throughout its history. To reconstruct the heritage of mansaf and present it as a complete picture, both the tangible heritage, such as cooking equipment, whether modern or traditional, and the intangible heritage, such as the cooking techniques and associated traditions and activities, were analyzed. Mansaf has changed greatly over the past decades; however, living memory does not extend much beyond the 1940s within the informants to further examine mansaf’s changes in the case study of the village of Hartha, Northwest Jordan. Mansaf still remains an important signifier of major occasions, a tie to local heritage, and part of local and national identities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Foodways, Campervans and the Terms of Mobility: Transnational Belonging, Home, and Heritage in the Narrative of “Sud Italia”
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 23; doi:10.3390/h5020023
Received: 16 February 2016 / Revised: 9 April 2016 / Accepted: 11 April 2016 / Published: 21 April 2016
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Abstract
International popular culture continues to remediate and perpetuate the link between food and ideas of Italian identity. A range of analytical approaches have become concerned with food and drink in Italian culture: the importance of food industries in patterns of Italian migration and
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International popular culture continues to remediate and perpetuate the link between food and ideas of Italian identity. A range of analytical approaches have become concerned with food and drink in Italian culture: the importance of food industries in patterns of Italian migration and Italy’s economy, the recurrence of the Mediterranean diet in public health debates, the emotive value attached to foodways, and their role in constructing subjectivity are all recognized as fertile terrain for research. Nevertheless, a lack of audience-reception research on the social and cultural uses of both food and food-related media has been identified. Responding to this inviting opening, the following article is based on data collated between October 2014 and January 2016 as part of the ongoing “Transnationalizing Modern Languages” project. Focusing on London as a particular axis of both contemporary and historic Italian migration to England and the UK, my research utilizes selected small-medium food enterprises in the UK capital, and the personal narratives of migration they form part of, to reflect simultaneously upon the contemporary appeal of foodways read as Italian in Britain and the practical implications of meanings ascribed to foodways by subjects identifying as Italian. Positing the intersection between public and private represented in these food narratives as one of the most productive sites for reflection upon more general social development and experience, I offer a critical reading of “Sud Italia”, a mobile pizzeria in which the contradictory dynamics of subjectivity/objectivity and mobility/fixity are symbolised. Drawing on participatory ethnography, the article seeks to contribute further understanding to the multifaceted concepts of “belonging”, “home” and “heritage” by grounding their relevance in practical, day-to-day realities. Full article
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