Marking Memory on a Plate: Food Narratives from the Middle East

Erica Moukarzel, Marking Memory on a Plate: Food Narratives from the Middle East  | Supervisors: Esther Peeren and Noa Roei

This project investigates food in relation to sensory belonging within the context of the Middle East. It explores how food comes to shape identities and their sense of place, transmitted through affective and embodied narratives. Focusing on the Middle Eastern plate, the project draws out the intersections of food with language, colonization, gender, and nostalgia, and the ways these concepts come to be inscribed in their specific cultural contexts. Furthermore, the project underscores cultural ties between one place and another, as it bridges the in-betweens of food’s spatial entanglements, disassembling places and their respective borders. Finally, the project aims to map out a new interdisciplinary approach to (Middle Eastern) cuisine as a narrative that emphasizes on stories of common heritage, tied together by migratory routes and political interjections.

Food and its related narratives, rituals and components, from ingredients, to recipes, to ways of cooking, serving and eating, carry a double record: first as field recordings of the environment – be it natural or political – and second as historical documents of events and technological developments. The results are passionate narratives of survival, triumph, grief, celebration, forgiveness and strife, marks of protest and resistance to conditions natural and human-made. These narratives, in all their forms, are at the core of this project. By focusing on narrative, the project aims to address the complications of colonial pasts, displacement, and globalization through a double focus on objects that represent dishes and foods (cooking books, cooking shows, etc.), as well as on the components of the dishes in and of themselves. This second focus – my archeological investigation of the material ingredients of the said dishes – is based on my  understanding of the plate itself as a narrative that is often ignored but that can, when carefully attended to, offer important insights to the broader narratives that envelop it.

Imagining the US Rural – Genres, Interventions, Feelings

Tjalling R. Valdés Olmos | Supervisors: Esther Peeren and Jaap Kooijman | Imagining the US Rural – Genres, Interventions, Feelings

My project examines what aspects of 21st-century US rural life become in/visible in prominent rural imaginations, and what politics these imaginations support. More specifically I look at these questions from a decolonial, feminist, and critical race studies perspective, asking how certain genres make particular aspects of rural life il/legible and in/visible within the context of the longue durée of globalization. The project is further informed by a theoretical and conceptual framework focusing on the chronotope, spectrality, and affect.

Dutch Imaginations of a Globalizing Rural

Anke Bosma | Supervisors: Esther Peeren and Hanneke Stuit | Dutch Imaginations of  a Globalizing Rural

During my PhD project I will close read around 12 cultural objects (books, films, television shows) that depict the rural – more generally ‘the province’ – in the Netherlands. By looking at these objects through the lenses of spectrality, affect and chronotope I will assess how the rural is imagined in Dutch cultural consciousness. I will pay particular attention to how globalization and its effects on the rural become apparent and in what ways they are obscured.

Digital platforms as emerging welfare actors

Eva Mos | Supervisors: Niels van Doorn en Justus Uitermark

Digital platforms increasingly intervene in the domain of civil society and welfare provision, such as care, voluntary or neighborhood support. The project aims to examine to what extent and how platforms function as welfare actors and how they can be understood in light of ongoing welfare state transitions, in particular a transition toward the emergence of what has been called ‘post-welfare’ societies. The project goes beyond a narrative of platforms as monopolist and capitalist actors, instead examining the often adapted and multifarious appearances of platforms in the social domain. At the same time, it is questioned how, by unlocking these new (post)welfare arrangements, platforms rework existing inequalities in a post-welfare society.

Jelke Bosma, The Urban Opportunites and Challenges of Airbnb

This project explores the relation between urban inequality and Airbnb. Through a comparative ethnographic study, looking at Airbnb in Amsterdam, Berlin and New York, it questions how Airbnb allows some people to create value in novel ways (including hosts and businesses offering services for hosts) whereas it excludes others, from these valorisation processes but also from the neighborhoods where they take place.