Accepted paper:

Between practices and belongings: intersectional stories of migrant women around food


Elsa Mescoli (Universite de Liege)

Paper short abstract:

Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted among Moroccan women living in Milan hinterland in Italy, this paper aims at exploring the negotiated ways of performing both cultural and social belongings through food and at pointing out how these two dimensions can diverge or overlap in practice.

Paper long abstract:

Migration constitutes for human beings an opportunity - among others - to develop a reflexive gaze upon one's own habits (Rodier 2010), food habits in the case under study. In fact, not only changes that may occur in the ways of eating, cooking and supplying of produces, but also new relationships push individuals to question their everyday practices, which are associated with specific meanings. These meanings are socially and culturally oriented and performative, since they permit to state belongings as well as to take part to differently defined groups. In order to study these dynamics, I will present some ethnographic data collected during a research among Moroccan women living in Milan hinterland in Italy, mainly focusing on the history of two of them. The description of food practices, embedded in the narration of the migration experience and its consequences, which in its turn interacts with contextual discourses around immigrants and cultural diversity, reveals unexpected strategies to take social and cultural positionings within the collectivity. The theoretical framework upon which my analysis relies consists of a praxeological approach to subjectivation (Warnier 2001) combined with the consideration of the multi-dimensionality of the self which is derived from the intersectional perspective on identity (Crenshaw 1989; Anthias 2002; Yuval-Davis 2006). Through concrete practices involving food, individuals - women in this case - define their self as a layered complex of belongings, and they do that at both social and cultural level; thus proving how these two dimensions can diverge or overlap.

panel Food02
Food for thought (and dwelling) in uncertain times