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)
Dr. Francesca Muccini
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
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 double-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. 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.
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.
- Food, Foodways
- Ethnic Food
- Food Habits
- Food and Philosophy
- Food Ethics
- Food as Culture
- Food Aesthetics
- Food Politics