Publication details

Food as an identity marker of Tibetanness



Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description My paper deals food as an identity marker of Tibetanness within the second largest Tibetan diasporic community in Europe, namely in Switzerland. Foods are used as ways to preserve memories and can help people identify with their cultural and familial heritage and, define themselves by discovering histories. In fact, food serves as an invaluable resource in bridging generation gaps, forming family ties, and teaching people about their culture. By arguing that everyday foods illustrate cultural identity, I support the idea that cuisines are the calling card of cultural heritage, which develops to a national cuisine or at least a national character. When looking at the Tibetan diasporic community in Switzerland, by maintaining cultural culinary customs, the bond with one’s ancestral land are upheld. And moreover, by passing down recipes from generation to generation the cultural memory is kept alive, such as among Tibetans living outside their land of origin. Being aware that Tibetan cuisine represents a combination of influences from China, Central Asia, Mongolia, India, and Nepal, I am questioning according to what criteria do the Tibetans qualify a foodstuff or a dish as “traditional” or even “unique”? Based upon the finding of my ethnographic fieldwork in Switzerland, I look at the development of culinary traditions among Tibetan immigrants in Switzerland, and the role they play in the formation of their sense of community in specific places that are also integrated in transnational networks.
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