Food & Foodways, Special Issue: Food, Memory, and Narratives (published by Routledge)

full name / name of organization: 
Meredith E. Abarca & Joshua R. Colby, University of Texas, El Paso

Foods we encounter through our life cycle leave memories that affect our past, influence our present, and shape our future. Food memories speak through out senses; they are preformed physically through our bodies; they reflect a visceral self-awareness. Food memories have the ability to nourish or starve us depending on the narrative interpretation by which these recollections are re-created. In short, food memories have the capacity to mark the narratives of our lives.
But how and why do food memories shape the narratives of our lives? Simone Smith and Julia Watson in 'Reading Autobiography' (2010) define a food-centred narrative as gastrography: a "food memoir [that] incorporates food-laced memories that feed readers' desire to redefine [themselves]." This definition raises a central topic that we seek to examine: what is it about food and the memories it evokes that awaken a desire to both define and re-define who we are?
In an effort to examine the complex ways that food memories mark the narratives of our lives, we seek submissions that address (some) of the fallowing issues:
• Historically, and across social economic classes and ethnicities, this form of food self-expression and self-defintion is one that women have employed: how does gender influence memories of food?
• Since memories are never replicas of past experiences but interpretations of them, how do recollections rewrite a given food experience and in doing so change its symbolic and material value?
• How and why do food memories invite, create and challenge nostalgic feelings about home, and thus reimagine the very meaning of home?
• What function of sharing personal and private food memories with others in the form of memoirs, cookbooks, or television food shows serve?
• Memories are voluntary and involuntary and can either authenticate or destabilize past experiences. Some theoreticians of memory argue that paradoxically in the process of recalling past experiences our memory validates them. But it is also our memory that questions long-ago lived moments. With the passing of time, our recollection of a single event change. Are food memories prone to this paradox? If so, how does this affect our reading of food memories embedded in someone's narrative? How does it affect our reading of the term "authenticity" when related to food?
• How do people's travels (voluntarily or not) frame their food memories and the stories these tell?
• Can we speak of food memory as another sense? If so, how does it work and how do we engage frame our life narratives guided by this sense?

Abstract due March 15, 2014 (500 to 600 words)
Articles due September 15, 2014 (6000 to 9000 word )