Call for Papers

Due January 20, 2019

picture of a bowl of hummus

Making Levantine Cuisine:
A Critical Food Studies Symposium

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies,
Georgetown University, Washington, DC
June 7-8, 2019
Proposals due 20 January 2019

The Levant is home to some of the most storied cuisines in the world, from the refined cuisine of Aleppo to popular street foods like falafel. Yet much of its centuries-old history remains unwritten, and there are few academic studies of its contemporary food cultures. What is Levantine cuisine––historically, gastronomically, and culturally? Can studying the region’s food and foodways help us better define or understand what constitutes “the Levant” or what counts as “Levantine,” and how it came to be? What is entailed in writing the culinary history of a particular place? This two-day symposium aims to answer these questions and more by bringing together perspectives from history, anthropology, literature, and other disciplines to explore and address the absence of food studies work in contemporary scholarship on the region.

We welcome proposals from scholars in any field whose work touches on food and foodways in the modern Levant, broadly construed. We envision a discussion of the making of “modern” Levantine cuisines and food systems, but welcome creative approaches to periodization that may include early modern perspectives or address the effects of the Columbian Exchange. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Historical, economic, or social studies of specific foods, beverages, or edible commodities
  • Foodways in Levantine diaspora communities
  • Food systems (including agriculture and urban foodways)
  • Cultures of consumption in restaurants or domestic settings
  • Food and gender, religion, ethnicity, and/or social class
  • The emergence of national cuisines
  • Food in literature, art, and/or film
  • The historiography of Levantine cuisine
  • Genres of food writing (memoir, cookbooks, scholarly prose, film documentary)

Applicants are encouraged to consider incorporating experiential or sensory components into their paper presentations, though this is by no means a requirement. Logistical support and kitchen facilities will be made available to presenters who wish to do so. Papers will be pre-circulated and read by all participants in advance to encourage in-depth discussion.

We invite contributions from academics and non-academics aimed at a broad readership. Papers presented at the symposium will be edited and published in a volume that is intended as a contribution to the emerging field of Middle East food studies. Funding to offset travel and accommodation costs for the participants will be available. Honoraria will be offered in exchange for the submission of chapters for publication.

Email an attachment of a word document that has 1) an abstract of 150-200 words and 2) a brief one-paragraph author biography including name and email contact information. Please email Food_Sy.o5tbstol19b55cg2@u.box.com on or before January 20th, 2019. Questions should be directed to David Balgley, dcb88@georgetown.edu.

This conference is being organized by Graham Pitts and Anny Gaul, with generous support from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the US Department of Education Title VI grant supporting the National Resource Center-Middle East/North Africa at Georgetown University.