Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Russia has historically been a key node in the circulation of food cultures between East and West, South and North. Consequently, Russian culinary practices represent an intriguing diversity that encompasses “traditional” and “peasant” foods alongside French confectionary styles, Korean salads and noodle dishes, and Central Asian dumplings and rice dishes. This culinary diversity reflects intentional state-making projects of colonialism in which the nation-state discovered and incorporated territories, peoples, and foods into a homogenous “Russian” culture. In this talk, I examine Russian strategies of culinary colonialism and consider the legacies of intentional state projects to recognize, celebrate, and incorporate cultural diversity as fundamental to a uniquely Russian national culinary heritage.
About the Speaker
Melissa L. Caldwell is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies. Her research, writing, and teaching focus on the role of food in state socialist and postsocialist societies, with special emphasis on Russia, the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe. She has written on food nationalism, culinary tourism, gardening and natural foods, and the social experience of hunger and food assistance. Her new research examines the possibilities of citizen science for social justice movements in socialist and postsocialist societies.