Food Cultures, Mobility and Migration Conference

As societies and the goods that they produce become increasingly mobile, and as time and money for leisure activity become more readily available in European and American societies, food has become not just a reflection of the geographical and cultural context in which it is produced, prepared and consumed, but a marker of identity in and of itself. In a transnational world, where people move across cultures with greater ease and frequency, the relationship between food, culture and translation comes to the fore; yet this relationship remains under-researched. Food security and food politics are at the root of many decisions taken by individuals, communities, businesses and states, but the presence of food in histories of political events is often overlooked. For mobile people, food may be a marker of separation or a bridge to other cultures. Food security may have impelled migration, while food practices contain knowledge and memory.

This conference seeks to explore food cultures and practices in contexts of mobility and migration. To what extent does the materiality of food enable us to trace the histories of daily life for specific communities and groups? How can we record and archive food experiences? In what ways does food mark culture?

Call for papers

We invite proposals for papers of 15 minutes relating to the following broad themes:

  • food production and globalisation
  • food spaces and businesses
  • food practices in migrant or refugee communities
  • recipes, dishes and ingredients as cultural markers
  • “ethnic” food and “mainstream” cultures
  • gustatory experience, emotions and memory
  • cultural food tales
  • food, identity and ethnography
  • food security and food deserts
  • methodological approaches to the study of food cultures
  • archiving food, recording taste and smell

The conference will take place in New Bedford, Massachusetts on 15th and 16th September 2017 and the programme will include a number of food experiences. The language of the conference is English. Creative approaches to presentations are welcome.

Please send your proposal of no more than 250 words to by 15th of April 2017. Please include your name and academic or other professional affiliation.

This conference forms part of the project Pão e Vinho sobre a Mesa: Portuguese Food Cultures, Mobility and Migration. It is organised by the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives and Cardiff University School of Modern Languages, and supported by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

PDF of call for papers


We are happy to announce that David E. Sutton will be our keynote speaker with a talk titled "Cooking, The Senses and Moral Economies: Reflections on Food in Crisis Greece.”

Professor Sutton teaches in the anthropology department of Southern Illinois University. Since the early 1990s he has been doing research in Greece, with a focus on the island of Kalymnos in the Eastern Aegean. His interests include questions of memory, historical consciousness and the relevance of the past in daily life, ranging from naming practices to the ritual throwing of dynamite at Easter. More recently, he has explored food and the senses on Kalymnos, with a focus on everyday cooking practices. He has employed the use of video to get at some of the ways that Kalymnians reproduce and innovate their recipes, use tools as extensions of the body, and create their kitchenspace.

His research on the so-called Greek financial crisis, as seen through the lens of changing food practices will be foundation of his keynote.


Conference Programme 

Day 1

08.30-9.45: Breakfast and registration

10.00-10.15: Welcome and opening remarks

10.15-11.30: Panel 1

11.30-12.30: Roundtable with chefs

12.30-13.30: Lunch 

13.30-14.45: Panel 2

14.45-15.15: Afternoon break

15.15-16.30: Panel 3

16.30-18.00: Visit to local brewery and reception

18.30: Dinner

Day 2

08.30-9.30: Breakfast 

09.30-10:45: Panel 4

10:45-11.00: Morning break

11.00-12.30: Keynote paper by David E. Sutton

12.30-14.00: Lunch and cooking demonstration

14.00-15.15: Panel 5

15.15-15.30: Afternoon break

15.30: Closing remarks followed by visit to local food business and closing dinner 

Please note that the registration fee will cover breakfast, breaks, lunches and transportation to site visits 

There may be changes made to the programme as we confirm presenters and site visits.