Fostering Cross-Cultural Dialogue Through Food
What in our day-to-day lives takes many differences yet relates to us all? Food. Born out of basic necessity, the cooking and eating of food is also the social fabric that underpins our lives. Food holds a unique yet often under-appreciated role in our communities to celebrate differences and realise our shared interests.
Conversations with family, friends, and strangers can start with the food served at the table. Food can be a common denominator that brings us back to the basics of social interaction and understanding. The storytelling behind the food we eat can offer a vibrant and humanising approach for understanding each other.
We all have a food story to share, regardless of background, circumstance, or experience. Food Stories shows us how conversations and common understanding firstly starts at the dinner table, but how this can extend to include future community engagement and economic opportunity.
Follow us for the next year, talk to us, and share a food story close to you!
Food Stories is an AHRC Care for the Future funded project that involves a collaboration between UWTSD, University of Leicester and Stories On Our Plate (SOOP). The project aims to foster cross-cultural understanding through cooking and eating food, and by sharing stories of culinary heritage and cultural identity, via a series of creative activities – including cooking workshops, a cookbook, and café-style cookbook launch seminars – in Bradford, Coventry and London.
The premise of Food Stories is that food, and its narratives, can act as vehicles for translating the histories and cultures of different parts of the world to one another, and that food can encourage individuals to reflect and value their own culinary heritage as part of their identity.
This is particularly important in the context of diasporas and migrant groups, and in the current political climate, which has seen a rise in anti-migrant and refugee rhetoric and increasingly entrenched divisions across the United Kingdom. Food Stories builds on the lessons learned from a previous AHRC funded project, Consuming Authenticities, which investigated how narratives about history, origins and traditions invested foods and drinks with complicated ideas of authenticity and explored notions of culinary heritage and its relationship to cultural identity.
Food Stories focuses its activities on locations that appear to be multi-cultural, cosmopolitan and diverse, and are built on migration and migrant communities, but their diversity divides as much as unites.
There is hence an urgent social need to promote cross-cultural understanding in such divided communities and the space to do so. Learning about food traditions, exchanging historical and personal narratives about food and culinary heritage, is a particularly effective means of achieving such intercultural dialogue and understanding.
Take a look at a more detailed outline of the project’s aims and objectives.
- Dr Emma-Jayne Abbots, Primary Investigator, UWTSD
- Dr Deborah Toner, Co-Investigator, University of Leicester
- Stories on Our Plate (SOOP), Project Partner
For more information on the Food Stories project, please contact Emma-Jayne Abbots at firstname.lastname@example.org.