Reference : Repas métissés. Culinary experiences and participation by undocumented migrants in Liege
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Anthropology
Repas métissés. Culinary experiences and participation by undocumented migrants in Liege
Mescoli, Elsa mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences sociales > Département des sciences sociales >]
Sharing meals. Social aspects of eating and cooking together
14 June 2018
Center for Food & Hospitality Research, Institut Paul Bocuse
[en] food ; undocumented migrants ; participation
[en] Within the framework of a research project focused on the public opinion about refugees and asylum seekers, and on the migrants’ and local citizens’ initiatives of socio-cultural and political participation, it was possible to gather relevant data about the way in which food permits – among other cultural activities – such participation. In particular, through ethnographic research, I could explore the preparation of meals for local population by a group of undocumented migrant women living in Liege as means to take active role in the life of the city, in spite of being excluded from it in terms of legal status and rights. Through preparing food at local events, and through interacting with local organisms (associations, services, institutions) that set the conditions for these activities to develop, undocumented migrant women position themselves as active subjects contributing to local dynamics. For example, in collaboration with a local cultural association, they organize some tables d’hôtes in the house that they are occupying to prepare meals that combine sub-Saharan African culinary traditions with local recipes and values – in fact, specifically in the neighborhood where this activity takes place, ecological preoccupations drive food habits in terms of supplying practices and cooking methods. Besides this, they also prepare the meals to be served at a training program organized by the local section of the socialist trade union focused on migrants’ – and workers’, more generally, – rights.
The exploration of these and other examples shows how food – and sharing food in particular – can be the material and discursive site for establishing relevant relationships and claiming rights. Undocumented migrants, whose demand for regular stay in Belgium has been rejected and who find themselves lacking civic rights, manage to find a – though unstable – place in the hosting society thanks to the performance of cultural practices involving local people and engaging with contextual dynamics.
Politique Scientifique Fédérale (Belgique) = Belgian Federal Science Policy
Researchers ; Students

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