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Foodways, Iranianness, and national identity habitus: the Iranian diaspora in Aotearoa New Zealand

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journal contribution
posted on 04.08.2022, 00:49 authored by Amir SayadabdiAmir Sayadabdi, PJ Howland
In this article we ethnographically investigate how diasporic Iranians in Aotearoa/New Zealand deployed a variety of foodways in emphasizing varied identity constructs in different contexts and to different audiences. We argue that Iranian migrants experienced a cleft habitus that prompted hyper-reflexivity and associated strategic identity discourses and performances. Moreover, we analyze their diasporic reflexivity and practices through ‘bottom-up’ national identity constructions and performances and its four modalities of talking, choosing, consuming, and performing the nation. Diasporic Iranians frequently highlighted what they considered to be ideally Iranian-as-Persian in attempts to position themselves as secular Iranians/Muslims and in contradiction to the host society’s prevalent prejudices concerning ‘fundamentalist Arabs’, ‘Middle Easterners’ and ‘Muslims’. In doing this, they strategically consumed foods (most notably pork and red wine) considered to be ‘taboo’ under Islamic religious beliefs and did so especially in contexts dominated by their Pākehā (New Zealand European) hosts; they also invented new food symbolisms and rituals in collective celebrations (such as Yalda) to draw attention to a glorious imagined past–Persian and Iranian–which was often not recognized by their host society and which positioned the diasporic Iranians as secular and cultural. As such we address a marked lacuna in research investigating the food-identity-nationalism nexus among diasporic Iranians in general and in Aotearoa/New Zealand specifically.

History

Preferred citation

Sayadabdi, A. & Howland, P. J. (2021). Foodways, Iranianness, and national identity habitus: the Iranian diaspora in Aotearoa New Zealand. Food and Foodways, 29(4), 331-354. https://doi.org/10.1080/07409710.2021.1984577

Journal title

Food and Foodways

Volume

29

Issue

4

Publication date

01/01/2021

Pagination

331-354

Publisher

Informa UK Limited

Publication status

Published

Contribution type

Article

Online publication date

04/10/2021

ISSN

0740-9710

eISSN

1542-3484

Language

en