Facoltà di scienze della comunicazione

The semiotics of migrants’ food : between codes and experience

Greco, Sara

In: Semiotica, 2016, no. 211, p. 59–80

This paper sets out to analyze cultural semiotics of migrants’ food and culinary practices. Moving from the perspective of the Tartu school of semiotics, which views culture both as a grammar (a set of codes) and as a set of texts, food can be characterized as a specific cultural element where grammar and text (code and experience) are woven together. International migrants live one or more... Plus

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    Summary
    This paper sets out to analyze cultural semiotics of migrants’ food and culinary practices. Moving from the perspective of the Tartu school of semiotics, which views culture both as a grammar (a set of codes) and as a set of texts, food can be characterized as a specific cultural element where grammar and text (code and experience) are woven together. International migrants live one or more ruptures and changes in their status quo due to their adaptation to the receiving country, which puts their cultural habits into questions. In this framework, even “normal” and well-established culinary practices might need to change. In this relation, I claim that it is on the basis of migrants’ new experience abroad that it is possible to change culinary grammars. In order to move beyond a descriptive account of change, and understand the reasons why migrants construct a new semiotics of food, this paper also integrates elements from argumentation theory in order to analyze the reasons given by migrants to explain the changes they are making. The analysis proposed here is based on a corpus of interviews to migrating mothers of different origins, all living in the greater London area.