Consuming Europeannes, Eating Deliciously and Digesting the Soviet. Changing Tastes and Food Practices Among Russian Speaking Middle Class Migrants in Germany

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Darja KLINGENBERG, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Food prepared, indulged and talked about at kitchen tables, fast-food counters and other tables of migration is a crucial element in encountering different spheres of the receiving society, creating relationships with new and old “Others” and maintaining transnational affiliations. Food nurtures not only nostalgic desires but also the need to reflect and remember one’s past and connect it with the present. Thinking about embodied experiences of migration, my paper addresses the transformation of tastes and appetites in the context of Post-socialist migration to Western Europe.
In a first part I will sketch out the relevance of my interest drawing on intersectional feminist understandings of migrant experiences and the contributions of food studies to understanding food economies and geographies in migration. The second part will be based on biographical interviews with and participatory observation among Russian Speaking middle class migrants in Germany, which I conducted as part of my PhD Thesis. I will speak about shared palates and memories and the desire for and appropriation of new tastes. I address the sense of disgust, discomfort and familiarity and the experience of being ethnicized or exoticized based on food desires. Those dimensions of embodied experiences allow, as I will argue, a deep understanding of the fine and often invisible and discrete lines of the social geographies which migrants experience, cross and create in their daily life’s. They also reflect broader issues as post-socialist migrant’s femininity, practices of care in their embeddedness with sexual identities, class and race.
With this perspective, I will introduce a grounded reconstruction of practices and embodied aspirations of migrants beyond the reification of ethnic and cultural affiliations that still haunt migration sociology. In the last part I will briefly reflect on employing biographical methods in the context of understanding embodied experiences.