Imagining Culinary Nomadism: Intimate Food Exchanges Shaped By Global Mixed Race, Diasporic Belongings and Cosmopolitan Sensibilities

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Jean DURUZ, University of South Australia, School of Creative industries, Australia
This paper grapples with the notion of “ingested nomadism” as an idealised motif for the modern state: a collective, sensory-based imaginary in which homes are portable, spaces are shared and technology provides freedom of movement – both actual and virtual – across the globe. This mood of wonder and optimism, however, might need to be positioned against Noyes’ (2004) “brute reality of the refugee”, especially in these troubling times of war, displacement, diaspora, xenophobia and increased national gatekeeping. Taking a microcosmic focus, the paper examines the productive possibilities and mounting tensions of nomadism through the lens of daily food exchanges, particularly the sensory content of these, within the intimate relations of “mixed marriage”. Seeking out resonant fragments from narratives of an Australian woman and a Chinese-Mexican man marrying and raising children in Mexico City, for example, or of a mixed-race couple becoming second-generation owners of an Ethiopian cafe in Adelaide, South Australia, the argument traces the significance of the “mix” for households’ culinary relations against a backdrop of politically challenging times. Drawing on the sensory complexities of foodscapes of belonging, yet not-belonging, the paper reflects on the extent to which meanings of nomadism pervade modern life and food (whether we move or not), and poses its central question: how much of global mixed marriage, with its “ingested nomadism”, involves “letting go”, “unlearning” oneself … in the interests of a “multilateral modernity” (Chambers 2008)?