The department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures’ XXVII annual Graduate Student conference will take place on April 27-28 at Columbia’s Casa Hispánica. This year’s theme examines forms of visual art, literature and social practices that cope with, submit to, and question the experience of eating. The purpose is to bring into the field of academic reflection a fundamental subject to our cultures that, paradoxically, has been kept out of it: food practices.
The keynote speaker for the event will be Sonia Montecino, a renowned Chilean writer and anthropologist. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Leiden and was awarded the Chilean National Award for the Humanities and Social Sciences 2013. Her work focuses on ethnic studies from a gender perspective and culinary analysis such as: food habits, local gastronomies and cooking elaborations, tables and table manners, identity connections between food and culture and nations food identities.
Topics to be addressed: What happens when the means of production and distribution influence our relationship to food? How are processes such as rituals, communal memories, and processes of mestizaje manifested through food?
Long before the Conquest, the diverse culinary repertoire of Latin America and Spain has provided a set of recipes that both project and commercialize the Hispanic world, as well as contribute to ways of living and forms of community. The act of eating articulates the dimensions of the body and the sensorial with collective processes of resistance, indigestion, subversion, and creation that often cannot be translated into verbal or visual languages.
By examining cooking, participants in this conference will unveil the behavior, values, and segregations that occur in a particular society; how food is distributed; who eats what; how much is eaten; who and how many get a seat at the table. Eating and drinking together is as much an act of social cohesion and mutual recognition as it is a mechanism that expresses different forms of hierarchy and exclusion. Eating an event that opens a space of physical and verbal coexistence that can (or cannot) suspend the present imperative of production.