International Symposium on Food Studies Transnational Conversations

Tags: symposium, food security, Food safety, food politics, transnational conversations, visual art, food cultures

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On 22-23 July 2016, researchers, junior academics, public intellectuals and artists, will gather at the University of Pretoria to share insights on deepening humanities-oriented food studies and inter-epistemic dialogues about the social, cultural and human meanings of food cultures and systems within transnational encounters.

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“The centrality of “food” in discursive and cultural processes compels us to move beyond issues of consumption, survival and food security, to focus also on complex relationships between food and human experiences” - Professor Desiree Lewis of the University of the Western Cape. Lewis was the organiser of the is the lead researcher of the Mellon-funded "Food Politics" programme within the CoE in Food Security.

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Co-organized by Professor Vasu Reddy, Dean of Humanities at UP, said the symposium was also aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two South African universities hosting the CoE in Food Security, UWC and UP.

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Presenters included scholars who’ve researched extensively on food such as Professor Gabeba Baderoon, author of "Regarding Muslims"

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Among the topics discussed during the symposium was: How excessive consumption is linked to hunger; the role of Big Food in shaping transnational “taste” and the marketing of food items and food consumption in relation to lifestyle


Performance by drama students from UP: The symposium was aimed at generating conversations among academics, postgraduates and artists interested in deepening humanities-oriented food studies and inter-epistemic dialogues about the social, cultural and human meanings of food cultures and systems within transnational encounters.

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University of Western Cape's Mr Mark Spires delivered a presentation titled: “Nutritional rights and food environments in diabetes self-management: South Africa, Uganda, and Sweden.”

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Professor Lise Korsten, University of Pretoria chaired a panel discussion under the theme: "Eating well': commodity capitalism and contemporary food cultures"

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The first panel presentations on the first day of the symposium tackled the theme: "Foodways, food archives and cultural processes"

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Panel 5 on day 2 featured presentations on "Food Cultures and Social Subjectivities"


Another panel focused on "Food, meaning-making and media texts"

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Dr Carla Tsampira, University of Cape Town shared insights on “Meat and Masculinities in South Africa: Revisiting Ecofeminism in Search of New Conversations.”

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The exhibition, titled: "Require and Desire", featured the work of 1st Year Fine Art Printmaking students, curated by Natalie Fossey of the University of Pretoria

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The Symposium programme also featured a Visual Art Exhibition, held at UP's Merensky Library

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University of Pretoria's Professor Raimi Gbadamosi presnted on: “Indigestible: The problems of food in Art.”

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Diana A. Burnett, University of Pennsylvania: “The Consumption of Indigeneity: Belief, Identity, and Food Consumption Patterns among the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem.”

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Symposium organisers: Professors Vasu Reddy (UP) and Desiree Lewis (UWC)

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Wits University's Professor Jacklyn Cock spoke on: “The relation between the Andean concept of ‘living well’ and modernist food consumption.”

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University of Pretoria's Dr Saliou Niassy's presentation looked at “Insects as Food: Believes, Diversity, and Opportunities.”

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Mr Angelo Fick, Cultural studies scholar and current affairs, news analyst at eNCA in a 'show and tell' styled presentation on: “Mediation, performance, and consumption: The political economy of food preparation in late modernity.”

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'Show and tell' with eNCA's Angelo Fick

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Professor Stephen Devereux, NRF SA-UK Bilateral SARCHI chaiir in Social Protection for Food Security shared insights "Shame and food insecurity"

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Prof Vasu Reddy, University of Pretoria presented on: “The Madiba Culinary Archive: Tentative Comments on the Meaning of Food in Hunger for Freedom (Barbara Trapido, 2008).”

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Presenters will included scholars who’ve researched extensively on food including Professor Tracey Deutsch, author of "Building a Housewife’s Paradise"

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The symposium featured presentations by researchers, junior academics, public intellectuals and artists

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Professor Jonathan Bishop Highfield, Rhode Island School of Design speaking on" “All Yesterday’s Meals: Food as Archive.”

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Professor Lise Korsten, Interim Co-Director of DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security (UP) gave an overview of how the CoE aims to coordinate food studies research

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Professor Njeri Githire, University of Minnesota presented on: “Flying Women and Chicken Soup: Food as Artist Expression in the African Cultural Landscape."

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"Require and Desire", Visual Art Exhibition