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Accepted Paper:

Recipes for the Future: Culinary Heritage, Belonging and the National Imaginary among Palestinians in Britain  
Lucy Barkley (University of Exeter)

Paper short abstract:

Engaging with the concept of ‘settler time’ (Rifkin 2017), this paper explores how Palestinians in Britain use food to imagine the future transformation of the Palestinian political landscape. Cuisine, as cultural heritage, is shown to be a crucial resource in practices of identification and refusal

Paper long abstract:

Based upon ethnographic fieldwork undertaken between 2015 and 2020, this paper analyses the temporally complex ways that Palestinians (re)construct and engage with the nation, asserting both their belonging within the national community and the possibilities open to that community in the future.

Drawing on recipes handed down through the generations, young Palestinians in Britain are shown to be transforming their culinary inheritance, both materially and symbolically. Through the multiplicity of spatiotemporal connections that exist within a single inherited recipe, my interlocutors map and attempt to overcome their fragmentation. Yet dishes are marked by both what they are, and what they are not (Palestinian, authentic, traditional…). Cuisine therefore becomes a productive tool for a political critique of the present and is used to underscore narratives of futurity that strive for change. Although highly personal, taken together these narratives can be read as a collective investment in the future of the nation, one that is enacted through the prism of culinary habits in the present.

Crucially, each plate of food produced is a tangible representation of Palestinian refusal; a challenge to the hegemonic Israeli temporality that forecloses Palestinian nationhood. Culinary heritage therefore provides both the impetus and the platform from which to develop and give voice to ideas and ideals of the nation. What emerges from the kitchen is a new generation of Palestinian cooks, a generation with their own recipes not just for Palestinian cuisine, but for the future of Palestine itself.

Panel Speak11
Temporalizing utopia: interrogating nationalisms in the past and future
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 March, 2021, -