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Memory, Materiality and (non)-Belonging - Minority Restaurants and Food Practices in a Global Perspective
Shaheed Tayob (Stellenbosch University)
Margaretha van Es (Utrecht University)
Time zone:
Wednesday 22 July, 8:30-10:15, 11:00-12:45

Short abstract:

We invite paper submissions for a panel on restaurants owned and/or frequently visited by minoritized people. We are particularly interested in ethnographic studies linking food, materiality and memory to questions of value, co-existence, conflict and the ambiguities of (non) belonging.

Long abstract:

The study of minoritized people is often occupied with questions of 'immigrant integration' and the 'accommodation of diversity'. This research, while incredibly important in the contemporary moment, betrays normative political assumptions regarding the ability of newcomers to adjust to majority contexts, and likewise the ability of host contexts, legal frameworks and institutional settings to accommodate newcomers. An unfortunate side-effect is the reification of outsiders and insiders, and the re-enforcement of national and ethnic identities. In the meantime, as scholars debate questions of accommodation, minoritized people across the world actively negotiate their position in society. Set within the fraught context of nationalist and right-wing resurgences across the globe, restaurants become material locations for the negotiation of belonging, memory and identity. Whether we study Sufi-owned restaurants in Muslim neighborhoods of Mumbai, or fashionable halal restaurants in major European cities, these sites are material expressions of self and community that cross neat boundaries of 'us' and 'them', but that may also evoke a negative backlash. However, as places for the production, consumption and exchange of food, restaurants are also places where memories of home, tastes of nostalgia, as well as ethical values are practiced, embodied and materialized. In introducing new questions and directions for the ethnographic study of restaurants, we aim to offer a new avenue for the comparative study of diversity and the everyday lived experiences of minorities in diverse contexts.