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A visceral approach: cooking ‘at home’ with migrant women in Hamilton, New Zealand

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Abstract:

People’s visceral experiences of food – the tastes, textures and aromas – can tell us a great deal about their emotional and affective relations with place. Questions of bodies and embodiment are increasingly becoming a focus for geographers and migration scholars. In this article we extend some of this work by examining how the visceral can shape (and be shaped by) a range of socio-political relations. We concentrate on food and eating as a central political issue and illustrate how a visceral approach can push understandings of migrants’ experiences. We focus on a group of 11 migrant women from South Africa, Singapore, Korea, Iraq, Thailand, Hong Kong, Somalia, Japan, Indonesia, Mexico and India in their ‘new home’ in Hamilton, New Zealand. Each of the women prepared and cooked for us a dish that was significant to them in some way. These migrant women are comfortable in their domestic spaces and largely experience cooking not as a burden but as an important way of staying viscerally connected with their ‘old home’. Creating a domestic space where the body feels ‘at home’ can help resituate and reconstitute the diasporic subject. This kind of visceral approach is useful for informing the development of social policy.

Keywords: New Zealand; cooking; home; migration; senses; women

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5661.2009.00349.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, Tourism and Environmental Planning, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, Email: robynl@waikato.ac.nz 2: Population Studies Centre, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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