Accepted paper:

'Shit kebab' to 'British Institution': How British Kebab Awards re-imagine origins, home and nation?

Authors:

Nese Ceren Tosun (University of Warwick)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I will explore the ways in which British Kebab Awards re-imagines the British nation to the inclusion of the abject kebab based on an ethnography of the Awards Ceremony.

Paper long abstract:

Kebab, assumed to originate in the Middle East as a technique of grilling meat "over an open fire is common to all people who hunted animals and knew fire" according to Zubaida (1994). Today predominantly associated with the migrant other, kebab is part of the European landscape of everyday consumption. In cities like London and Berlin where there are condensed migrant populations, kebab shops paint the cityscapes as much as the sensory of the urban. In Britain, kebab take away shops are a major source of income for the Turkish and Kurdish migrants, making them at once participants to urban economies, socialities, cultural and political formations. Despite their contributions and ubiquity, they cannot seem to escape abject associations. In this paper I will explore how British Kebab Awards translates these everyday street and media utterances of abject and exclusion into a matter of pride and inclusion. British Kebab Awards ceremony does not simply declare Kebab "as a Great British Institution", it also re-imagines being British and contributes to the interethnic and intraethnic relations. Can the contaminated, unhealthy and late-hours' food actually re-imagine Britain as an inclusive nation? Can the messy food of the migrant imagine itself as the proud food at home?

panel P034
Ethnographies of food inclusion and exclusion [Anthropology of Food Network]