The Issue of Food in Milan Schools: How Young (Maghrebi ) Muslim Migrants Deal with Cafeteria Food Based upon the Experience of Cultural Mediators
Author(s)Giovine, Roberta Rosa
Keywordsmigrants, religion, school, cafeteria, prohibitions, identity, mediator
Settore L-LIN/04 - Lingua E Traduzione - Lingua Francese
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AbstractThe author developed a two-year project, still underway, focusing on North African Muslim migrants and the change in their perception of food identity following their experience in Italy, particularly in the light of the strong religious implications that food has for these populations. These implications were investigated through interviews with, primarily, cultural mediators, with a special focus on school cafeterias. There, the food requirements of Maghrebi Muslim children receive varying degrees of attention, including in terms of communication, thus often resulting in mistrust and uncertainty in the parents, who are not sure whether their little ones will end up eating forbidden foods, and insecurity and distress in children, to whom all sorts of food are suddenly available, but often without a clear and reassuring distinction between the “clean” and the “unclean” ones. At the same time, the contact with a multicultural alimentary social space and the realization of their previously unproblematic food restrictions prompts them to question their diversity, and ultimately their identity, more forcefully. In summary, schools lie at the crossroads of different value systems and interests, which the mediators clearly understand and explain, and whose primary stakeholders are not only the students and the teachers – who, in primary schools, are often passive recipients of somebody else’s decisions – but logically their families, the Muslim community, the institutions, the school canteen suppliers, and many others, in their roles as the actual decision-makers.