Cuestionario para Libanéses Que
Vive (y Come) en Algún Lugar de America del Sur o Norte
Questionnaire for Lebanese People Who
Live (and Eat) Anywhere in South or North America
Graduate Thesis // From Beirut to Patagonia: Migration and Memory at the Lebanese Mesa
“Many studies have demonstrated that food is a particularly potent symbol of personal and group identity, forming one of the foundations of both individuality and a sense of a common membership in a larger, bonded group” (Wilk 1999, 1). In a 2017 panel arranged by the Middle East Institute called “Food for Humanity,” three panelists discussed the ways in which food can serve as a narrative device as well as a means for cultural resistance and community building. For a part of the world that is so largely defined by conflict, food allows Middle Eastern people not to counter the existing narrative but to provide an alternative narrative, and the context of that narrative is crucial (El-Haddad 2017). These narratives shape an individual’s or group’s identity, so narrative voices that belong to members of the group being represented can challenge stereotypes and misrepresentations induced by fear and a lack of understanding (Moushabeck 2017). Furthermore, food possesses the power to unify people across diversity, borders, and continents and to provide a framework for shared identities through common narratives.
The key questions that guide my research are: How do the millions of Lebanese people who have settled in the Americas express and connect to home and identity through food and cooking? How have their home foods and rituals been impacted by their migration, the limitations of trade, and the presence or absence of Lebanese people in their communities? How have Lebanese diaspora people made an impact on the food cultures of the places they have settled and how have those food cultures changed or influenced their own cooking practices? Why is it important? Why?