1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Talking about Food: Continuity and Change in Creole Foodways and Language in Dominica

This presentation explores ways in which language and food are intertwined in social life, and how their joint study can give insights into identity construction, nationalism, and cultural and linguistic change over time. It investigates a case study of changing discourses and ideologies about creole foodways and language on the Caribbean island of Dominica, where distinctions between local/non-local and traditional/modern pervade talk about language and food in the home, community, and nation. Rural adults often devalue local foodways and the Afro-French creole called Patwa, while desiring more “modern” imported goods and language (English), especially for their children. Meanwhile, cultural revitalization and ecotourism discourses prize “traditional” forms as representing a uniquely Dominican identity to be preserved and marketed. Examining these contexts as well as recent debates over which national dish truly represents this postcolonial nation reveal tensions over what it means to be Dominican today.

Event Date: 
Friday, 14 April 2017 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Amy Paugh
Speaker Title: 
Professor of Anthropology, James Madison University