Food is more than nutrients, and my students at the Lebanese American University have learned this fact by researching, preparing, tasting and sharing stories about foods of the European Renaissance era: lemonades, custards, renaissance crostini, Italian lady fingers, Bianco Mangiare, English pancakes, blueberry cakes, Salami biscuit cakes, and coffee. A festival of palates, senses, symbols and identity markers.
|AUD School of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies Dr. Pamela Chrabieh attended the 7thInternational Conference on Food Studies at Roma Tre University in Rome – Italy and presented a paper entitled ‘Learning through Food at the American University in Dubai: The Case of Middle Eastern Studies Students’ Experiences’.
According to Dr. Chrabieh: “This paper introduces its readers to the Peace Education approach I have been developing since 2004 in the academic sphere in Canada, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, as well as to one of its main applications in the classroom: the food component. These approach and component combine Anthropology of Food, Sciences of Religions, Cultural Studies and Irenology. The paper also presents the preliminary results of a qualitative research I have been conducting since 2014 at the American University in Dubai on the food learning experiences and food stories of more than 500 students enrolled in diverse Middle Eastern Studies courses. Students experience(d) conflict foods or foods as bridges across cultures and religions. They told/tell stories impregnated with gustatory nostalgia, whether relived or invented. They explain(ed) how food is an individual and collective identity marker. They also share(d) stories of migration, assimilation, pluralism, resistance and hybridity, while dealing with issues ranging from cultural appropriation to food security, as well as food diplomacy, intercultural dialogue and glocal (global-local) identity formation”.
Dr. Chrabieh concluded her paper with this statement: “It is far a given that food can bring about peace in this region and it is still early to evaluate the long-term impact of learning about cultures, religions and peace through food in the university context, but I can at least state that on a micro level, such as the classroom, and on an interpersonal level, food certainly contributes to deconstructing stereotypes and to bringing people together; therefore, food does prove to be a crucial instrument for a better diversity management and, as Sam Chapple-Sokol puts it, ‘it is a valuable addition to our toolbox as we confront conflicts both old and new’”.
The 7th International Conference on Food Studies was organized by the Food Studies Research Network that is curated by the Common Ground Research Networks. The Food Studies Research Network is brought together around an interest to explore new possibilities for sustainable food production and human nutrition, and associated impacts of food systems on culture.
Hosted by Gustolab International Institute for Food Studies and Roma Tre University , the conference’s scope and concerns were Food and Sustainability; Food, Nutrition and Health; and Food and Politics. Roma Tre University has always shown a tendency towards multidisciplinary research, and recently with a focus on sustainability through a new graduate degree in Innovation and Sustainability and a degree program in Gastronomic Sciences and Cultures. As for the Gustolab International Institute for Food Studies, it is a pioneering leader in Italy in developing study abroad and international education programs and research projects on Food Studies. It is the academic headquarters in this country for programs specialized on Food Culture, Communication, and Media and Nutrition for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This Institute has also worked with more than 30 universities on study abroad programs, from the USA to Canada, France and Japan.
Gustolab organized a pre-conference workshop on Studying, Teaching and Doing Research on Food Studies in Italy that Dr. Chrabieh attended. The objective of the workshop was to share and discuss opportunities for study and research in the food field with professors, students, researchers, and independent scholars who are interested in learning about study programs or doing research abroad. Attendees explored topics such as study abroad programs, culinary schools, master programs and internship programs. The material ranged from the social sciences to human, technological, biological, and agroecology sciences.
Dr. Chrabieh concludes with the following: “It is no surprise that the research interests of academics across a wide range of disciplines relate to food in some way. Food is at the center of our lives, cultures and religions, socio-political and legal systems, etc. Scholars in humanities for instance examine issues including the cultural significance and representation of food and food as an identity marker. Food Studies programs are now growing in popularity in North America and Europe. However, misconceptions are still found in our region i.e. Southwestern Asia and North Africa. For instance, the use of food in class is seen as a frivolous or not serious enough praxis. This is quite unfortunate. Food Studies is an important interdisciplinary field of study of food and of its relationship to the human experience that definitely needs to be promoted in local academic circles”.
Further information found on the Conference:
SOURCE: AMERICAN UNIVERSITY IN DUBAI NEWS http://www.aud.edu/news_events/en/view/1747/current_upcoming/dr-chrabieh-presents-research-at-7th-international-conference-on-food-studies
Thanking our friends, colleagues and students for an amazing International Women’s Day at the American University in Dubai.
March 8, 2018 – Middle Eastern Studies students with Dr. Pamela Chrabieh and Dr. Nadia Wardeh.
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a Lebanese and Canadian scholar, university professor, artist-painter, peace and feminist activist, and author of several academic and non-fiction publications in English, French and Modern Standard Arabic. I currently live in the United Arab Emirates.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is entitled ‘Reeds from Red Lips’. I founded an online movement for women’s rights in Southwestern Asia (i.e. Middle East) in 2012 that includes the works of more than 150 authors and artists from diverse identities and belongings, living in the region or in diaspora. My first inspiration was this movement per se and its valuable contributions to the advancement of women’s rights and peacebuilding and to highlighting unheard voices. My second inspiration came from questions I had to deal with in the last few years related to issues of gender and arts: What influence does gender have on art production in nowadays Southwestern Asia? Does gender embody everyday life experiences, including the artistic experience? Are gendered spaces of the region Orientalized, demystified, or both? Are bodies, especially women bodies, described asexualized, passive and silent? Do local authors and artists living in diaspora reproduce totalizing or essentialist tendencies? Are power relations between the former colonizers and colonized uncovered? Has the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring given women a greater voice and are more individuals willing to talk about gender openly? Is the view that assumes that women in Southwestern Asia are oppressed and left out of cultural debates a misconception?
Southwestern Asia has unfortunately been too often stereotyped, viewed as homogeneous and demonized, but the authors and artists featured in this book deconstruct prejudices. They tell stories of the rich pasts and current diversities of this part of the world. They prove somehow that the local belongings, realities, memories and histories are not to be analyzed through a binary perspective – they are far too complex, a mélange of grey zones and multiple shades.
I would like to thank them all: Norah Al Nimer | Katia Aoun Hage | Malak El Gohary | Amal Chehayeb | Lana AlBeik | Dr. Frank Darwiche | Noor Husain | Joelle Sfeir | Maram El Hendy | Dr. Omar Sabbagh | Karma Bou Saab | Farah Nasser | Haeley Ahn | Masooma Rana | Sandra Malki | Maya Khadra | Nour Zahi Al-Hassanieh
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
None that I could think of. I usually write when I am inspired, and with a cup of coffee
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I have read many authors’ works, especially authors from Southwestern Asia: Amin Maalouf, Gebran Khalil Gebran, Etel Adnan, Rumi, etc.
What are you working on now?
Promoting this book, teaching, and preparing for my next art exhibition.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I use social media platforms and websites such as this one. Colleagues and friends help too.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Passion, inspiration, creativity, courage, patience, humbleness, and an open mind.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls” (Gebran Khalil Gebran)
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” (Rumi)
What are you reading now?
I am re-reading some of the best women authors’ books in Southwestern Asia and North Africa such as Nawal El Saadawi, Assia Djebar and Fatema Mernissi but also poetry, prose and articles by new authors and students.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Learning from my mistakes, continuing on telling and sharing stories and building bridges.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Not one, but many… Every book I read threw lights on me.
What influence does gender have on art production in nowadays Southwestern Asia? Does gender embody everyday life experiences, including the artistic experience? Are gendered spaces of the region Orientalized, demystified, or both? Are bodies, especially women bodies, described asexualized, passive and silent? Do local authors and artists living in diaspora reproduce totalizing or essentialist tendencies? Are power relations between the former colonizers and colonized uncovered? Has the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring given women a greater voice and are more individuals willing to talk about gender openly? Is the view that assumes that women in Southwestern Asia are oppressed and left out of cultural debates a misconception?
In her anthology Reeds from Red Lips, Pamela Chrabieh explores these questions through stories told from a wide spectrum of voices, all from authors and artists who dream of peacebuilding, human rights, and women’s rights in Southwestern Asia.
- File Size: 19160 KB
- Print Length: 114 pages
- Publication Date: May 3, 2017
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0711D71C1 (KINDLE EDITION)
Interview by Dalia Bassyouni in Al Bayan (United Arab Emirates), May 5, 2017.