Making and Unmaking Collective Memory through Food: A Case Study of Windsor, Ontario’s Yugoslav Diaspora
Food history, collective memory, Yugoslav diaspora, Balkan diaspora, cultural history
The preparation and consumption of food is not merely a physical act, but a deeply social one, conveying cultural meaning that functions to tie us to our identity and profoundly influence our memory. Drawing upon interviews done with members of Windsor’s Yugoslav diaspora community, this research seeks to explore the ways in which this group has negotiated its collective memory within the host society through the use of food. I identify four central aspects of food’s relation to collective memory within the diaspora. First, the use of food as a means of connection to the homeland, and therefore, to collective memory. Second, the use of traditional foods as a means of gaining acceptance and visibility through the exploitation of collective memory. Next, the alteration of traditional foods as a means of gaining acceptance and (in)visibility through a form of selective forgetting. Finally, the rejection of Yugoslav culture as a means of assimilating and thus of forgetting. Taken in combination, these various approaches provide a multifaceted, comprehensive account of how food acts in relation to memory and forgetting. The emerging field of food history, with its unique ability to grant insights into cultural memories of both the private and public sphere, opens the door to a fuller, richer understanding of the dynamics of migrant life.
Master of Arts
Major Research Paper
Cultural History Commons, Eastern European Studies Commons, Ethnic Studies Commons, Food Studies Commons, Migration Studies Commons, Oral History Commons, Race and Ethnicity Commons, Social History Commons, Tourism Commons