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Visiting speaker: Professor Sami ZUBAIDA (Birkbeck College, London)

Imagining National Cuisine: Middle Eastern Food and Identity

Middle Eastern food cultures are products of geography, ecology and the mixing and syntheses of historical empires, the most recent being the Ottoman. The discourses of the emerging nation-states and their imagination have included assertion of national and ethnic cuisine: Turkish (or ‘Ottoman’), Iranian, Lebanese, Iraqi, or Arab, Armenian and Kurdish, with implications of historical roots going back centuries. I argue that food cultures are related more to geography than ethnicity or nation, and that what we eat now is the product of historical transformations more than continuities, such as the import of New World products, notably the tomato, and more recent globalised exchanges and innovations. And what is ‘Mediterranean cuisine’?

Event details


Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies, LT1 and LT2