Vivian Nun HalloranDec 17, 2021
The Immigrant Kitchen
Food, Ethnicity, and Diaspora
Ohio State University Press 2016
In The Immigrant Kitchen: Food, Ethnicity, and Diaspora (Ohio State UP, 2016), Vivian Nun Halloran examines food memoirs by immigrants and their descendants and reveals how their treatment of food deeply embeds concerns about immigrant identity in the United States. Halloran argues that by offering a glimpse into the authors' domestic lives through discussions of homemade food, these memoirs demystify the processes of immigration, assimilation, acculturation, and expatriation--ultimately examining what it means to live as naturalized citizens of the United States. Having grown up hearing about their parents' often fraught experiences of immigration, these authors examine the emotional toll these stories took and how such stories continue to affect their view of themselves as Americans. Halloran covers a wide swathe of immigrant food memoirs, moving seamlessly between works by authors such as Austin Clarke, Madhur Jaffrey, Kim Sun e, Diana Abu-Jaber, Eduardo Machado, Colette Rossant, Maya Angelou, and Jonathan Safran Foer.
The Immigrant Kitchen describes how these memoirs function as a complex and engaging mass media genre that caters to multiple reading constituencies. Specifically, they entertain readers with personal anecdotes and recollections, teach new culinary skills through recipes, share insight into different cultural mores through ethnographic and reportorial discussions of life in other countries, and attest to the impact that an individual's legal immigration into the United States continues to have down through the generations of his or her American-born families.
Vivian Nun Halloran is professor of English at Indiana University Bloomington. She is a Caribbeanist by training, and a literary food studies scholar by vocation. She is the author of Exhibiting Slavery and is currently working on her next book that examines those moments when Americans of Caribbean descent address themselves to the American people to share the lessons of their immigrant upbringing. She is also working on two digital humanities projects. Twitter: @HalloranVivian
Amir Sayadabdi is a lecturer in Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington. He is mainly interested in anthropology of food and its intersection with gender studies, migration studies, and studies of race, ethnicity, and nationalism.