Remembering the past and constructing the future over a communal plate: Restaurants established by African asylum seekers in Tel Aviv

Galia Sabar, Rachel Posner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Since 2005, asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan have been immigrating to Israel via the Egyptian-Israeli border. By February 2011, approximately 33,000 asylum seekers resided in Israel, most of them in the southern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv. Literature has focused on legal and political aspects of this new wave of migration, but little research has documented their social, religious and economic institutions and none has considered their self-established restaurants. This study examines asylum seekers' foodways and culinary establishments, revealing the importance to asylum seekers of preparation and consumption of familiar foods as part of their daily struggles for survival in a foreign land. By combining both anthropological and biological perspectives (that is, the evolutionary and adaptive significance of human behaviors, taking into consideration the biological mechanisms underlying these behaviors), we show how the triggering of memories by the sensorial experience of cooking and eating is an important component in the construction and management of identity in the context of forced migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-222
Number of pages26
JournalFood, Culture and Society
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Asylum seekers
  • Commensality
  • Forced migration
  • Memory
  • Restaurants
  • Senses
  • Tel Aviv

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