Lecture Addresses Food, Conflict, and Culture

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Anita Mannur

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Is food a source of comfort–or division? How can it be used to spark conversations about global conflicts? Those are the questions Anita Mannur is asking in her upcoming talk called “Kitchens in Crisis” at UAA. Mannur, an associate professor of Asian & Asian American studies at Miami University in Ohio, says her research looks at ways in which food can bring people together, or push them apart.

“And I think that’s for me rooted in my own personal history as an immigrant [from India]. As a child, sort of being embarrassed about the kind of food I would have to bring and it marking me as different and wanting to be the same as everyone around me and not wanting it to smell different.”

But Mannur says food can also be a vehicle for talking about larger issues. She says some restaurants, like Conflict Kitchen in Pittsburgh, only serve food from countries that are involved in conflicts with the United States, like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cuba. There, food is used as a teaching vehicle, get people to talk about the stories and histories connected to the foods.

Mah-nor will be speaking at the UAA Library room 307 Thursday night at 6 pm.