Cooking across time and space: Food and language in the Amazigh/Berber area (Africa)

Event details


Date & time

Monday 12 August 2019


MacDonalds Room, RG Menzies Building (#2)


Prof. Amina Mettouchi


School of Culture, History & Language

Cooking touches on many aspects of human life. In the Berber area, it is linked to the community where women come from, the available utensils and ingredients (reflecting the surrounding ecosystem), the community that women marry into, and the influence of travellers returning home after having spent time in other regions or countries. It is also linked to many other aspects of culture, history and community.

Professor Amina Mettouchi comes to speak at ANU.

This talk will show how food lies at the heart of a network of explorations and endeavors. From the study of human migrations since prehistoric times, to the transmission and preservation of heritage recipes and techniques. Also, the cultural and symbolic aspects of food, both in everyday practice and in oral literature.

Illustrations will be drawn from studies of neolithic food remains, Saharan rock paintings, oral literature, documentation of food preparation techniques and recipes from a variety of sources. These include both sedentary and nomadic populations, ethnobotanical publications on the use of flora in times of famine, and anthropological studies of food in ceremonies and prophylactic rituals.

The presentation will focus on the Inyen project, which revolves around recipes and food preparation in the Berber-speaking zone. Its aims include documenting these practices by way of a mobile App, (among other methods), in order to empower women, sustain language and cultural maintenance. Also, to create a comparative lexical database in several Berber languages of the Zenati subgroup to contribute to the study of the history of migrations and contacts in the last thousand years.

This seminar is free and open to the public. Talk from 12.30pm-1.30pm. Drinks and refreshments from 12pm. Registration essential.

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