This project is an AHRC funded public community engagement project by Goldsmiths Department of Anthropology, documenting changing food habits in Lewisham. Food is a manifestation of culture and the way it is produced, distributed, and shared shows histories and identities. In the context of South London, the preparation, display and consumption of food, in public and in private spaces, expresses changing urban environments from the borough, to the neighbourhood and the household.
The London Borough of Lewisham is one of the most culturally diverse but also one of the most deprived areas of London. As such it has been particularly affected by the politics of austerity. Food is materially and symbolically at the heart of the anxieties different residents share, and to feed oneself and one’s family is often a main challenge posed by austerity politics. Thus, across the borough we are seeing the emergence of new forms of food production and distribution. These include food banks, allotments, cooperatives and soup kitchens, while at the same time sharp divides emerge as the area changes, obvious in the rise of coffee shops, farmer’s markets and gastro pubs.
In order to show how such change affects different communities, we want to collect memories of the older generations about other experiences of food and its importance in their lives, but also show how the younger generation deals with austerity politics.
The project aims at finding material for an exhibition, which will be accompanied a by a series of talks about food and social change held on local public spaces.
We would be grateful if you assisted us by providing material on:
* Food and memory, for example “my favourite food”; my favourite recipe”, “foods of my childhood”, etc.
* Food preparation and sharing, defining community and bridging differences. When and were does this happen – here locally, but also at home… materials and techniques used, knowledge transmitted.
* Visual records – photos and videos of feasts and fasts in the family and the community
* Tracing the life of a major food product in the community, for example chicken, from ship to stove: where do you shop, what do you buy and when…
For the exhibition we will select some of these materials, while the others will be stored in the library at Goldsmiths. We aim at combining life histories with photo stories, taking pictures of food products and events when people consume food, as well as a small collection of related items. As an enduring output following the photographic and object exhibition we will produce a cookbook comprising participants’ recipes, presented in the context of their own narratives and illustrated by photos and drawings from the exhibition.
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