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Diaspora, Food and Identity

Nigerian Migrants in Belgium


Maureen Duru

This book examines the connection between food and identity in the Nigerian diaspora community in Belgium. Encounters between people from different cultures do not lead to a simple adaptation of the diet, but usually give rise to some kind of fusion of new and indigenous food habits.

The author questions the relationship between what Nigerian migrants in the diaspora eat, their self-perception and how they engage with outsiders. Starting with a historical introduction about the country, this study examines what aspects of the Nigerian food culture is retained and what has changed. This is reflected by the dynamics in the Nigerian homes, especially the gender roles.

The new generation of Nigerians, who see Belgium as home, also hang on to a Nigerian diet that remains not only an important part of who they are, but is also used in the creation of cultural boundaries and group identities. However, the influence of the new environment is very present because each diaspora community, wherever and whenever, must adapt. Skills such as language and social norms are indeed necessary to survive in the new environment. Yet, food plays a prominent role: on the one hand, it contributes to the affirmation of Nigerian feelings, and on the other hand, food serves as a means of communication with the host country.

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The writing of this book would not have been achieved without the help of many people, who in different ways supported me and made themselves and their resources available to me during my doctorate research and the writing of the PhD thesis which form the basis for this book.

My profound gratitude goes to Professor Dr Peter Scholliers, my PhD academic supervisor, who despite my shortcomings and challenges never gave up on me. I sincerely thank him for taking out time to read the manuscript again, make comments, advice and support me throughout this process.

I thank the members of the Nigerian community who agreed to be interviewed, provided needed information and supported me during my PhD research. Although I cannot mention you all, I appreciate your support. I couldn’t have done this without your help especially Chief and Mrs Tajudeen Fasanya, Mr and Mrs John Ubah, Dr and Mrs Emmanuel Omanukwue, Aluba Kalu-Otis, Vena and Marylyn Ani. My heartfelt gratitude goes to Katrijn Asselberg, Charles and Chinyere Obi-Obasi for their help with the manuscript. I am also grateful to Mr Trevor Smith of Cadenza Consulting and Ms Eleonore Grave for proof reading my work.

I wish to acknowledge the support of Mr John Duru-Onweni and the Duru family (Emeka, Okey, Ogechi, and Tessy). The support of Pastor Ademola and Joan Farinu, Mrs Chinyere Heurion and Mrs Julie Anyikwa is very much appreciated. Ms Diana Dimbueni also has my profound gratitude for...

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