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Muslim foodways and globalization

January 31, 2014 - 10:15-12:00

Open guest lecture with Professor Maris Gillette.
In the early 21st century, most Muslims’ foodways blend local ideas and practices with transnational commodities, many specifically targeted to Muslim consumers by corporations and governments eager to profit from what they consider a growing market sector.  In this presentation, I examine Muslim foodways and notions of halal (permitted) and haram (prohibited) foods, drawing on published scholarship and my ethnographic research with Muslims in three different contexts: Chinese Muslims (Hui) in the city of Xi’an, Iranian Muslims in the city of Karaj, and American Muslims in the city of Philadelphia.
Today, food producers of all sizes and backgrounds use halal as a market brand.  Over the last decade, we find Muslim food scientists and engineers using advanced food-testing techniques to categorize foods as permitted or prohibited; formal halal certification processes administered by governments and private organizations; organic, ecologically-friendly, and sustainable halal food movements; gourmet halal grocery stores, restaurants, and food offerings; and an online world of blogs and websites on food, health, and Islam.  Muslim states, companies, and individuals have initiated boycotts of foods considered anti-Muslim, and movements to promote consumption of foods specifically marketed as pro-Muslim.  Muslims around the world adapt, adopt, reinvigorate, and reaffirm their eating practices in relation to products and trends originating from commercial, cultural, and religious sites around the world.
Maris Gillette is a cultural anthropologist and filmmaker.  Currently she is writing a book about ceramic production in China’s porcelain capital, from 1004 when Jingdezhen’s wares first caught the attention of the imperial court, through centuries of government sponsorship, until the early 21st century turn to private enterprise.  Gillette has curated and co-curated exhibitions and installations on Chinese porcelain and other topics at a number of museums and galleries.  She has worked on several community-based digital videos in Philadelphia, and made a film about Jingdezhen’s porcelain industry entitled Broken Pots Broken Dreams.  Gillette has also written extensively about Chinese Muslims (Hui) in Xi’an.  She is Professor of Anthropology at Haverford College and EURIAS Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala.  In July 2014, she will become the E. Desmond Lee Professor of Museum Studies and Community History at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.
Venue: Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Scheelevägen 15B, Room Alfa 1010
Muslim foodways and globalization


January 31, 2014