[URBANTH-L] CFP: Food and Transnational Identity panel, American Studies Assoc.

Benito Vergara bvergara at sfsu.edu
Tue Dec 20 10:21:23 EST 2005

Call for Papers Date:	2006-01-10 (in 21 days)
Date Submitted: 	2005-12-14

I am looking for co-presenters for an alternative session that I am 
proposing for the upcoming American Studies Association conference, 
which will take place in Oakland, California October 12-15, 2006. The 
theme for the 2006 ASA conference is “The United States from Inside and 
Out: Transnational American Studies.”

The session that I am proposing, "Eating Out: Food and the Performance 
of Transnational Identity" will focus upon the relationship between 
so-called “ethnic" food and transnational identity in America. 
Performance Studies approaches tend to support a theorization of food as 
being perceived acted upon and located in what Paul Connerton would 
describe as a “system of expectations.” According to Barbara 
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, to perform is to do, to behave, to show. Food 
evokes a certain level of preconception, and does something to the 
consumer. What does food do in transnational American cultural life? The 
goal of this session is to explore this very issue.

Keying in on the more evocative and dynamic qualities of food, I would 
invite performance or workshop oriented proposals that consider a 
delectable buffet of ethnographic works, performances, gastronomic 
literature, art, films and/or television programs. Of special interest 
will be how food and foodways as cultural performances sustain, subvert, 
bind or bound various immigrant communities within American society.

Drawing from Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s theory of food as a 
performance medium, and Dwight Conquergood’s theory of dialogical 
performance, for my own presentation I will discuss and perform short 
excerpts from several texts in conversation with each other as a way of 
debunking the myth of the American Melting Pot. Focusing upon reviews of 
Iberian and Latin American restaurants in the Ironbound neighborhood of 
Newark, New Jersey, I will draw attention to how articulations (and 
misrepresentations) of Newark’s urban decline and renewal, coupled with 
popular discourses around the Ironbound’s thriving food culture 
construct the neighborhood as a bounded ethnic utopia, spatially and 
discursively separate from the city’s notorious legacy of 
post-industrial failure, political corruption, crime and racial violence 
enacted across a highly polarized Black-White divide.

Alternative sessions are essentially sessions without papers, and would 
include performances, workshops, multimedia presentations and dialogues. 
For a more detailed description of alternative sessions, please visit 
the ASA website: 

Artists, foodies, and graduate students are especially encouraged to 
submit a proposal.

Please email a brief (250 word) proposal and 1 page cv to 
l-baptista at northwestern.edu if you are interested in joining this 
session NO LATER THAN January 10, 2005.
	Lori Barcliff Baptista
Department of Performance Studies
Northwestern University
1920 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208-2240
Email: l-baptista at northwestern.edu

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