As a second project in the research-oriented MA course „Multi-local families in times of increased geographical and communicative mobility“ (summer term 2020), we present Pia Weide’s project „Mediated Food Rituals of transnational families – ‘Doing family’ from a distance – Emotional connectivity and co-presence in culinary practices“.
Researching rituals in culinary practices performed by Germany-based migrants and their distant families on video-based platforms in relation to familyhood.
Mediated co-presence can be created through the use of video-based platforms, which provide emotional connectivity and intimacy, but can also bring communicative challenges and tensions along. By analysing different forms of presence, such as Ambient Co-Presence (Madianou, 2016), Mediated Co-Presence (Marino, 2019) and Connected Presence (Licoppe, 2004) and interviewing migrants living in Hamburg, Germany, I aim to move towards the following questions:
How do rituals in communication practices influence the everyday live of transnational families?
What kind of (new) emotions are created in ambient co-presence?
What role does food play in experiencing emotional boundaries in transnational families?
What emotional difference is experienced when sharing food in mediated co-presence compared to physical presence?
Culinary practices are strongly connected to personal and social identification markers and enable individuals to create a feeling of shared and cultural identity. Food often functions as a preservation of a feeling of belonging, especially in family contexts. It is not just a physical necessity, but also a psychological one that offers community-based practices. Food often organises families’ everyday live at home – so what happens, when food becomes deterritorialized from the physical place of home? How do food practices and emotions shift in mediated co-presence within transnational contexts families?
How can transnational families overcome the physical distance by creating digital rituals of communication in order to exchange emotions, sensory experiences and shared feelings of connectivity?
“(…) food ‘stirs the emotions’ precisely because of its physical nature and sensual affordances, which ‘call the continuity of identity through a vivid nostalgic experience.’”
Lupton 1996: 30.
About the author:
Pia Weide is currently enrolled in the Masters program of Modern South Asian and Southeast Asian Studies at Humboldt University of Berlin.
She studied ‘Regionalstudien Asien / Afrika’ at Humboldt University of Berlin and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2018.