In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in scholarly works on food and empire, considering culinary practices, commercial activity, imperial policies, and more. Food products, agricultural expertise and information, cookbooks, and cultural practices travelled across the vast networks opened up by imperialism, and often shaped the way that colonizing states, settlers, and colonized interacted with one another and their physical environment. Trade in food products shaped global economies and cultures, and had a dramatic impact on lived experience in imperial centers and their colonies.
We are now at a point to start considering where to go from here, and ask more specifically what role food, drink and other ingestibles played in establishing the rules and boundaries of colonial encounters. We are seeking then to bring together a group of scholars from a variety of disciplines who are considering how food shaped and was shaped by colonial forms of power, violence, hierarchies, markets, borders and identities since 1500. We seek paper submissions from all regions and time periods that fit the general theme of “Food and Empire,” and consider any aspect of foodways.
Much work has looked at connections between metropolitan tastes, desires and foodways and the history of empire. This approach has all too often taken “power” and conflict out of the food history, whitewashing economic networks and food practices. To combat this, we are centrally interested in recovering the power dynamics of provisioning and withholding in colonial spaces. We ask scholars to consider the role of provisioning in this history, looking at the way that armies, navies, the merchant marine, plantations, households, missions, and more have provided food to their members and/or taken food away from others. How have local and European intermediaries shaped colonial and metropolitan foodways? How has the state, religion, business and private efforts played a role in determining what is considered good to grow, raise, trade, cook and eat? Finally, but centrally, how have contests over producing, distributing and consuming food been key to revising, maintaining and creating racial, gender and class, local and imperial identities?
For this workshop, we want to define “Empire” and “Colonialism” as broadly as possible and hope to afford particular attention to understudied periods and regions, but are willing and interested in scholars who use food history to develop new understandings of global flows, local histories and colonial encounters. Like Empire, we define “food” broadly and welcome submissions that consider agricultural products, synthetic or industrial consumables, beverages, stimulants, etc. Ideally, we would like to look beyond products like coffee, sugar, cocoa, spices and tea, which have all been excellently researched in recent years, but new perspectives on such ubiquitous products are also encouraged.
We may consider developing this workshop into an edited volume or special journal issue, so we would like to prioritize new and emerging scholarship within the broad fields of food and empire.
Proposals are submitted by Google Form and should include a short CV (1-2 pages), a 300 word abstract, and keywords. Proposals should be submitted by February 15th, 2021 here: Food and Empire Workshop Proposal Form
Notifications of acceptance will be sent out in early March, and participants will be expected to submit full papers ahead of the workshop by May 1st.