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"Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are (and where you are from)." Food, culture and re-membering in New Zealand: A case study approach.

This thesis focusses on processes of re-membering and the transmission of culturally patterned food-related practices across generations. Of particular interest is how the preparation, serving and eating of food acts to keep cultural traditions and memories alive. The theoretical framework for this research is informed by social constructionism, with ethnographic and hermeneutic traditions influencing methods used. The domestic space of the home provided a highly relevant research site where everyday food practices were enabled and enacted. Three dual-heritage, multi-generational households took part in a series of emplaced biographical ‘go-along’, ‘eat-along’ and photo-elicitation interviews. These went beyond just conversing and included the use of mapping, participant observation, photo-elicitation and go-along interview techniques, gridding (of photos), and the sharing of meals. The analysis considers each case in turn. The tension between past lives and current lived reality in the Marton household requires both Amy and Paul to construct their identities and sense of self on a daily basis. The shared cultural values of the Barrett household mitigates their differing ethnic heritages and food traditions, contributing towards emotional harmony within the home. The Linton household exemplifies the time scarcity common to many modern-day families. This lack of time directly impacts their everyday food-related practices. This thesis demonstrates that food – and its surrounding practices – acts as a tangible, visceral nexus for abstract concepts such as culture, class, and identity. Food related practices are deeply connected to processes of re-membering, identity construction, a sense of place and social relationships. The case studies in this thesis showcase the fluidity of culture, the hybridic nature of individual and group membership, and the changing nature of familial practices. The key themes of time, tradition, culture and change and further discussed. Essentially, food is interwoven into our everyday practices and embodies who we are and where we are from.
Type of thesis
Graham, R. S. (2013). ‘Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are (and where you are from).’ Food, culture and re-membering in New Zealand: A case study approach. (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8674
University of Waikato
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