Culinary Practices in Shared Kitchens
a Collaborative Ethnobotanical Film Project
艹Overview ≻ Questions | Perspectives | Methods | Participation | Plan | Site
This is a project to document and analyze the performance of food traditions and cultural exchange, using digital video, within a multicultural setting at the University of Hawai‘i.
The residence halls of the East-West Center (EWC), on the UH Mānoa campus, house scholars from around the world, in private rooms with shared kitchens. The main hall, Hale Mānoa, provides two kitchens for each three floors of the building. Accordingly, residents often meet in these kitchens and talk as they prepare food.
This interaction provides an excellent opportunity to study the ways in which people from a variety of backgrounds construct culinary discourses, and use these as grounds for cultural identification and intercultural communication. Such a study can be enriched through the analytic participation of the actors. I plan to build a collaborative project which approaches these rich culinary practices through filmmaking, a powerful medium for capturing the details of communication as they unfold in, and build, the context of action, and for providing a body of material available to multiple analyses and presentations.
Building on previous film work with EWC ethnobotanists, I intend to offer an extended filmmaking workshop for residents interested in acquiring these skills, using the documentation of culinary practices as a means of generating hands-on experience and material to work with. As we examine the resulting footage and edit it into presentations, participants can bring their expertise together to develop an analysis of the material. In the process we will pay attention to ways in which these actions of editing and analysis themselves build another level of discourse.
This project has several interlocking goals:
In October of 2006 I presented a workshop
in Ethnobotanical Filmmaking to graduate students of the UH Mānoa
Botany Department1. At the end of the workshop we discussed the
idea of following-up with an ongoing workgroup on editing, allowing
more time for direct hands-on work with footage, and I began
to think about ways to set up a collective project to generate the
material we would use. Two of the workshop participants were
residents of the East-West Center's Hale Mānoa, where I had done some
filming the previous year.
In November 2005, to fulfill a documentary
assignment for an Academy for Creative Media class in Cinematic and
Narrative Production, I made an 8½ minute film called Foraging, about the use of campus
plants by two Hale Mānoa residents. We spent an afternoon
shooting across campus, and supplemented this with two interviews
conducted in the 3rd-floor Hale Mānoa kitchen. In the course of
filming it became clear that an interrelated topic — which would lend
itself beautifully to film — is the interplay between food traditions
and cultural exchange facilitated by the shared kitchens.
The study site is a perfect one for
collaborative research. Not only do East West Center residents bring
culinary traditions from all over the world, they also bring a range of
scholarly interests and expertise related to food sciences and social practices. As
an extension of the filmmaking workshop this project can give these
scholars media skills which they can later employ in their own work.
This project can at the same time be educational and research driven,
and as it takes as its subject food traditions from across the world,
it should be a pleasure to pursue.
David Strauch | P.O. Box 62223 | Honolulu, HI 96839
Revised 20 Nov 2006
艹Overview | Questions | Perspectives | Methods | Participation | Plan | Site