Conflict Cuisine’s® mission is to promote a greater understanding about differences in foodways (the cultural, social and economic practices related to food) that may be a source of conflict.
Through the study of diasporas – from refugees today to other immigrant populations who have settled in the United States and other parts of the globe – different foods have become borderless, yet tangible forms of culture that connect peoples no matter what their national origins.
By gaining a deeper understanding of the culinary resources of a given culture it is possible to use food as a tool of conflict prevention and cross-cultural understanding.
Conflict Cuisine® explores how food and the stories of those who prepare it can shift public perceptions about different cultures, while also creating a means for newcomers to survive in their adopted homelands. It is often the case that food becomes an important means of bringing people together around the table in a way that promotes open dialogue.
Is the kitchen the new venue of foreign policy?
This is the underlying question behind the work of Conflict Cuisine®, a project that started in 2014 as a course at American University’s School of International Service.
What began as a way to use food as a lens to understand conflict, the work of Conflict Cuisine® has grown to embrace the broader world of gastrodiplomacy, a public diplomacy tool and method of reaching hearts and minds through people’s stomachs.
Since the term was coined by Paul Rockower, gastrodiplomacy has taken on a broad set of meanings to include nations using their cuisines to “brand” their countries, and using food as a means of social cohesion by introducing new foods of immigrant populations into the mainstream.
Today, Conflict Cuisine® is part of a growing network of projects that use food as a tool for social change. Now known as social gastronomy (the use of food to promote the common good), practitioners of social gastronomy include a wide range of actors – from chefs who seek to improve the planet by promoting waste-free kitchens to social movements that serve others in need.
“The global environment is ripe for the use of food as a tool for doing good –
for training others in the culinary arts, feeding the hungry, helping those who have been
down on their luck, and preventing the devastation wrought by climate change.”
– Johanna Mendelson Forman
founder of Conflict Cuisine®
Conflict Cuisine® is a hub for academic work on diaspora food, gastrodiplomacy, and most importantly, a growing thought center for the social gastronomy network that is developing globally.
It is also a place where practitioners can find resources for additional information, networks that share related interests, and information about the intersection of food, conflict and peacebuilding.
Food has become the cultural DNA that has allowed chefs from around the world to become agents of social change, and educators to teach young and old about sustainable environmental practices, reduction of food waste and using the kitchen as a place to create new livelihoods and new beginnings.
We invite you to explore our website and join us in this exciting work and adventure!