domingo, 14 de julho

Food, Culture and Identity

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Coordinator: Juliane Conceição Primon Serres                 Academic Profile

To approach the relation between food and identity as a social fact means to question how food choices, forms of selection and food preparation are produced in a certain sociocultural context. The social structures, practices, representations and values that involve food choices make up frames of eating behaviors that characterize the sense of belonging to a social group, a nation, ethnicity, or other analytical category that defines the subject’s relations with the world.

Understanding food within this chain of culturally engendered meanings and practices refers to its understanding as the bearer of different senses ranging from the nutrition of the body itself to the symbolic aspects that place food as powerful agents of memory and identity.

Food is at the base of different identity registers such as social, religious, devotional, ritualistic, generational and transmission belonging in a temporal chain. It includes habits and forms of commensality that act as operative elements of social distinction. At the same time, it is possible to analyze food by the economic bias, strongly marked by political choices and definitions.

Dietary regimes are therefore the result of the interaction of different biological and cultural factors, models and choices that determine behaviors that are vectors of identity, so the set of these elements can confirm or counteract normative aspects of nutritional recommendations.

Food choice can also be understood as part of a symbolic system that acts in the process of social cohesion, a system that combines elements of a current temporality with others linked to traditional forms of food and memory. The food act reflects, consciously or not, what we are, our experience of social sharing and the references that guide our social stories.

Based on these findings, it is essential that the Social Sciences collaborate with other areas of technological and biological character in the context of food problems (food generation,
introduction of new habits and standards), which is at the intersection of all this knowledge and that is part of national and international public challenges and agendas. Among the partners is the University of Burgundy and University of Seville, with which we have been interacting, besides other international institutions.