KITCHEN RESISTANCE: OCCUPIED FOODWAYS AND PALESTINIAN WOMEN’S COOKBOOK PRODUCTION

By Amber Howard
Submitted to Session P5020 (Leisure, Consumerism, and Food, 2017 Annual Meeting
Anthro
Palestine;
Cultural Studies;
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
Women’s resistance movements in occupied Palestine often center on her presence in public spaces. With raised fists and iconic folk-wear Palestinian women embody the dynamic symbolism surrounding the ideas of “the mother of the nation.” At the end of the first and second intifadas, however, women returned by and large to the domestic sphere. While European and American feminist discourse has historically renounced domesticity, Palestinian women’s culture reclamation projects, often taking place in the kitchen, demonstrate the political potential of the hearth. Specifically, the explosion Palestinian cookbook over the last two decades, both within Palestine and among the diaspora, counter the idea that women’s resistance only operates on the streets.
This paper examines the ideologies of domestic productions as a means of understanding the active resistance of everyday re-insistence of Palestinian identity. An analysis of cookbooks produced in the diaspora as well as within the occupied territories maps new landscape of resistance. The language of Palestinian food mirrors the dialogue of resistance and asserts tangible evidence of a separately diverse culture. This study asserts that the powerful food production methodologies and cuisine codification projects of Palestinian women indicate a strong resistance project.
These energetic strategies of food reclamations and their assertions of identity, center on the female-dominated hearth and the potent mnemonic devices of familiar tastes that reinforce a collective cultural identity and tie Palestinian heritage directly to the cultivation and flavors of the land. Women challenge the hegemonic systems of the occupation by re-insisting a cultural heritage, flavor profile, and the legacy of Palestinian food. The language of Palestinian food utilized by women actively resists the grand narratives of an occupied space and exemplifies the hybridity of resistance and speaks to women’s roles. Palestinian women are effectively engaged in a kitchen-based identity project that seeks an international audience through the shared language of taste and defying notions of domestic political inertia.