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This panel explores the connections between food, identity and heritage policies, and their relations to different types of power, focusing in the ways food is used in the creation of ties that bind, boundaries that exclude and in its role in processes of empowerment, transgression, and resistance.
Food and cuisine are important cultural markers of identity providing a medium for understanding social relations, cultural symbolism and power. Currently, attention is being paid to the political dimensions of food and cuisine, exploring the ways food is mobilized as a marker of belonging by states, citizens, majorities and minorities, natives or migrants, dominants and dominated. We endeavour to tackle this topic especially in five interlinked dimensions: 1) the processes, including the invention of tradition, by which culinary practices are objectified as part of 'national' or 'ethnic' identities; 2) the growing role of states, gastronomic elites, international and regional agencies (UNESCO, EU, etc.), social actors and others in processes bent on transforming and reifying food cultures as culinary heritage; 3) the multiple interconnections between food cultures at the local, national, transnational and global levels; 4) the way dynamics of creation of 'national', 'regional', or 'ethnic' cuisines can be seen as a means not only of inclusiveness, but also as ways through which exclusionary boundaries are kept and strengthened; 5) and the ways by which social agents cut across and transgress those divisions in their daily culinary and consumption practices, through hybridization and reinvention, and use them in processes of empowerment. This panel hence proposes a rethinking of the policies related to food and belonging and invites to an interdisciplinary discussion on how different kinds of cuisines are produced, sustained, transmitted, preserved and contested as intangible cultural heritage and its wider implications in terms of social relations and power.