Consuming Food and Constructing Identities among Arabic and South Asian Immigrant Women

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Abstract:

Migration to a new country often results in a variety of social and economic challenges, often reflected in foodways. Food is of central importance in maintaining connections to home, and signifying ethnic identity among diasporic community members. Alternatively, new opportunities may be represented by the incorporation of new food elements into consumption patterns. Focus group interviews conducted with Arabic and South Asian immigrant women residing in a smaller Canadian city reveal the meanings women imparted to their own and their families' food choices and dietary habits. Women shared their struggles of maintaining ethnic cuisine as a marker of community affiliation while to varying degrees, integrating new foods, usually at their children's request. Experiences were not uniform, yet comparisons within and across these two communities suggest the importance of local social factors and politico-economic context in shaping commonly shared food and migration experiences and such shared realities highlight areas for advocacy.

Keywords: CULINARY HERITAGE; FAMILY FOOD PRACTICES; GENDER; IDENTITY; MIGRATION

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175174408X347900

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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