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Type: Journal article
Title: Food and the challenge to identity for post-war refugee women in Australia
Author: Agutter, K.
Ankeny, R.
Citation: History of the Family, 2017; 22(4):531-553
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 1081-602X
Statement of
Karen Agutter and Rachel A. Ankeny
Abstract: In many societies, feeding one’s family in traditional and culturally appropriate ways is an essential part of being a mother and a wife. For migrants, food can play an important role in the maintenance of tradition, culture, and identity. This paper uses archival evidence, media coverage, memoirs, and oral histories to explore how policies associated with food in migrant hostels impacted on, and interfered with, the central role of food in the commensal circle of the family, and in the identification of migrant women as wives, mothers, and cultural gatekeepers. We identify three main factors that contributed to this negative cultural impact: the preparation of quintessentially ‘Australian’ menus that were alien to most of the population; communal dining arrangements which disrupted the basic social activity of commensality; and the fact that there was no need for women to prepare food for their families, and no opportunity to do so since having private cooking facilities was illegal. The impact of these eating/dining experiences on women and their families was obviously profound: even today, the topic of food and enforced communal dining is among the first and most vivid of memories, typically negative, reported by those who transitioned through the hostels.
Keywords: Displaced persons (DPs); commensality; foodways; assimilation; migrant hostels
Rights: © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
RMID: 0030071028
DOI: 10.1080/1081602X.2017.1314221
Grant ID:
Appears in Collections:History publications

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