Cooking with refugees and migrants. Performing authenticity and traditionality for Warsaw’s culinary tourists

  • Magda Bodzan Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw
Keywords: food capital, refugee capital, cooking, refugees, authenticity, culinary tourism, gender

Abstract

During the migration crisis of 2015, a commonly shared belief about the integrating role of food resulted in the emergence of several culinary initiatives directed at refugees and migrants in Warsaw. I show that these culinary initiatives form a space for the creation of ostensibly opposing processes. On the one hand, they empower refugees and migrants by embracing the culinary cultures of their home countries; on the other, they facilitate the creation of simplified and folkloristic images of them. During culinary workshops, the role of migrants and refugees is to recreate traditional dishes, using “authentic” recipes. At the same time, they are restricted by the organizers’ ethical foodways and the demands of Warsaw’s culinary tourists, such as vegetarianism, to which migrants and refugees skilfully adapt. These processes result from a neoliberal logic, whereby refugees’ and migrants’ experiences and their ethnicity become commodities in the NGO market.
This article draws on ethnographic research conducted between 2017 and 2018 in Warsaw. I look at the biographies of six women refugees cooperating with selected initiatives. I analyse their strategies of recreating traditionality in the dishes they cook in order to authenticate their migration stories. I also examine their experiences and practices in the context of “food capital” that emerges as a result of the exchange of cultural capital between migrants and residents, and “refugee capital”, defined as the ability to use refugee status for personal development and integration. Combining “food capital” with “refugee capital” turns out to be an excellent recipe for success for refugees’ migration projects.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Abbots, Emma-Jayne. 2016. “Approaches to food and migration: rootedness, being and belonging.” In The Handbook of Food and Anthropology, edited by Jacob A. Klein and James L. Watson, 115–132, London: Bloomsbury.

Appadurai, Arjun. 1986. “On culinary authenticity.” Anthropology Today 2: 25.

Avakian, Arlene V. 1997. Through the Kitchen Window: Women Writers Explore the Intimate Meanings of Food and Cooking. Boston: Beacon Press.

Ben Ze’ev, Efrat. 2004. “The politics of taste and smell. Palestinian rites of return.” In The politics of food, edited by Marianne E. Lien and Brigitte Nerlich, 141–160, Berg Publishers.

Belasco, Warren. 2008. Food. The key concepts. Oxford and New York: Berg.

Bilewicz, Michał et al. 2017. Contempt Speech, Hate Speech. Report from Research on Verbal Violence Against Minority Groups. Centre for Research on Prejudice of the University of Warsaw; 10.13140/RG.2.2.14998.55366 (accessed 9.11.2020).

Bloch, Natalia 2010. “Czy jakożerca może zostać wegetarianinem? Globalny dyskurs praw zwierząt jako „tradycja wynaleziona” w diasporze tybetańskiej.” Lud 94, 121–142.

Bloch, Natalia 2011. Urodzeni uchodźcy. Tożsamość pokolenia młodych Tybetańczyków w Indiach. Wrocław: Monografie FNP, Seria Humanistyczna, Uniwersytet Wrocławski.

Brembeck, Helen. 2014. “Food, cooking and motherhood amongst Bosnian refugees in Sweden.” In Motherhood, Markets and Consumption. The Making of Mothers in Contemporary Western Culture, edited by Stephanie O’Donohoe et al., 104–115, Abingdon and New York: Routledge Interpretive Marketing Research (Book 18).

Buchowski, Michał. 2016. “Making anthropology matter in the heyday of Islamophobia and the ‘Refugee Crisis’: the case of Poland.” Český lid: etnologický časopis 103 (1), 51–67.

Cook, Ian, Crang, Philip and Thorpe, Mark. 1999. “Eating into Britishness: multicultural imaginaries and the identity politics of food.” In Practising Identities: Power and Resistance, edited by Sasha Roseneil and Julie Seymour, 223–248, Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Cook, Ian, Crang, Philip and Thorpe, Mark. 2004. “Tropics of consumption: getting with the fetish of ‘exotic’ fruit?” In Geographies of Commodity Chains, edited by Suzanne Reimer and Alex Hughes, 173–192, London & New York: Routledge.

Diner, Hasia R. 2001. Hungering for America. Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration. Boston: Harvard University Press.

Dunn, Elizabeth C. 2012. “A gift from the American People.” The Iowa Review 42 (2), 37–48; doi.org/10.17077/0021-065X.7159 (accessed 9.11.2020).

Dunlop, John B. 2017. Exodus: St John Maximovitch Leads His Flock out of Shanghai. New York: Orthodox Profiles (Book 9), St Vladimirs Seminary Pr.

Hage, Ghassan. 1997. “At home in the entrails of the west: multiculturalism, ‘ethnic food’ and migrant home-building.” In Home/World: Communality, Identity and Marginality in Sydney’s West, edited by Helen Grace et al., Sydney: Pluto Press.

Hauck-Lawson, Annie. 2015. “When food is the voice: a case study of a Polish-American woman.” Journal for the Study of Food and Society, 2 (1), 21–28.

Horolets, Anna. 2012. Codzienność jako atrakcja turystyczna w doświadczeniu turystów niszowych do byłego ZSSR. Kultura i społeczeństwo, 3, 113–130; https://doi.org/10.2478/v10276-012-0026-0 (accessed 9.11.2020).

Kuszkowska, Anna. 2012. “Fair Trade bez usprawiedliwień.” (op.cit.) 43, 24–28.

Long, Lucy M. 2004. “Culinary tourism: a folkloric perspective on eating and otherness.” In Culinary Tourism, edited by Lucy M. Long, 20–52, Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.

MacCannell, Dean. 1976. A New Theory of the Leisure Class. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Mlekuz, Jan. 2017. “We asked for workers. We got bureks instead. Meanings and material significance of the Burek in Slovenia.” Ethnologia Europaea 47 (2), 72–86.

Molz, Jennie, G. 2004. “Tasting an imagined Thailand: authenticity and culinary tourism in Thai restaurants.” In Culinary Tourism, edited by Lucy M. Long, 53–75, Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.

Ray, Krishnendu. 2004. The Migrant’s Table: Meals and Memories in Bengali-American Households. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Seremetakis, Nadia (ed.). 1994. The Senses Still: Perception and Memory as Material Culture in Modernity. Boulder CO: Westview.

Short, Frances. 2006. Kitchen Secrets. The Meaning of Cooking in Everyday Life. Oxford: Berg.

Sutton, David. 2001. Remembrance of Repasts: An Anthropology of Food and Memory. Oxford: Berg.

Terragni, Laura, Garnweidner, Lisa M., Pettersen, Sverre K. and Mosdø, Annhild. 2014. “Migration as a turning point in food habits: the early phase of dietary acculturation among women from South Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries living in Norway.” Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 53 (3), 273–291; doi: 10.1080/03670244.2013.817402 (accessed 9.11.2020).

Tolstokorova, Alissa. V. 2018. “Food dividends of migration: agents of cross-borderness and cultural continuity.” Zhurnal Frontirnykh Issledovaniy, 2, 70–88.

Trapp, Micah. 2016. “You-Will-Kill-Me Beans: Taste and the Politics of Necessity in Humanitarian Aid.” Cultural Anthropology 31 (3), 412–437. https://journal.culanth.org/index.php/ca/article/view/ca31.3.08/381 (accessed 9.11.2020).

Vallianatos, Helen. and Raine, Kim. 2008. “Consuming food and constructing identities among Arabic and South Asian immigrant women in food.” Culture and Society 11 (3): 355–373.

Williams-Forson, Psyche A. 2006. Building Houses out of Chickens Legs. Black Women, Food and Power. Chapel Hill: The University of North Caroline Press.

Published
2020-12-18
How to Cite
Bodzan, M. (2020). Cooking with refugees and migrants. Performing authenticity and traditionality for Warsaw’s culinary tourists. Ethnologia Polona, 41. https://doi.org/10.23858/ethp.2020.41.2156