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Anthropology of Family Food Practices

Constraints, Adjustments, Innovations


Edited By Marie-Pierre Julien and Nicoletta Diasio

What are the factors that govern our food choices at the beginning of the 21st century? Obvious answers to this question would point to social and cultural habits, but the issue is far more complex than this. Changes in national and international economies, the end of political regimes, migration, but also micro-events such as retirement, the birth of a child, varying school times and seasons, or innovations in industrial design, these are all potential factors that may generate a transformation of family eating habits. The meso- and micro-social levels are deeply intertwined in everyday life, and this book focuses on the connections between the two levels and on how they merge and overlap in the creation of new eating habits. In this book the reader will find scholars who analyse how families and households experiment, circumvent and appropriate technical, political, and social modifications in their family food situations, and how they create freedom and innovation under constraint. Grounded in strong ethnographic field research in several countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Norway, Romania, South-Africa), this book is also a contribution to the use of qualitative methods within the domestic space. It will be a welcome source of information for researchers and students in the fields of anthropology and sociology, for industrial designers and for any reader interested in studying social changes from the perspective of food practices.

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Food Practices among Moroccan Families in Milan: creative adjustments of cultural repertoires (Elsa Mescoli)


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Food Practices among Moroccan Families in Milan: Creative Adjustments of Cultural Repertoires



The connection between diet and migration constitutes an autonomous research field in contemporary socio-anthropology, and the present paper will approach this topic from a praxeological perspective. This means that I will here analyse the socio-cultural issues stemming from the connection between diet and migration from the perspective of practice, performance and transmission by and among individuals.

More specifically this chapter will discuss the culinary habits of a group of Moroccan women living in the city of Sesto San Giovanni (in the province of Milan, Italy), studying them through an ethnography stretching over an eighteen-month period, and including participant observations as well as semi-directive interviews. The overall aim of the study was to highlight the connection between these practices and the process by which subjects define themselves, following a theoretical approach which takes material culture as the locus of subjectivation (Warnier, 2001). This subjectivation happens through consumption, and food consumption is a part of that because it involves a sensitive relationship between the material environment (Diasio, 2009: 62), which becomes particularly obvious through the study of culinary practices. The construction of the subject occurs in a social context which prioritizes culture (Grillo, 2003)—in this case dietary culture—to the extent that the majority of the population’s discourse on the diet of migrants and its initiatives to standardize their food consumption on the one...

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