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Food and Gender: Contemporary Perspectives, Studies and Researches

Call for Papers
Marzia Mauriello and Gaia Cottino

The gendered approach to research on food has recorded an increasing interest among the human and social sciences in the past three decades. Initially researches were more sporadic and, as far as anthropology is concerned, not specific to the topic (Douglas 1966, 1972; Zymbalist Rosaldo, Lamphere 1974; Ortner, Whitehead 1981; Goody 1982), while lately the subject "food" in its peculiar relationship with gender was finally investigated on its own (Weismantel 1989; Adams 1990; Fiddes 1991; Counihan, Kaplan 1998; Counihan 1999).

Perhaps the most well-known perspective on this theme is the one adopted by pro-feminist scholars on gender hierarchy in food production, selection, choice, preparation, sale and consumption in various places and times (Murcott 1983; Charles, Kerr 1988; Adams 1990; DeVault 1991; Lupton 1996; Avakian 1997; Counihan, Kaplan 1998; Counihan 1999). Hierarchies, these last, that, as some have argued, could be agentively played by the same actors whose "know-how" in the culinary field, could be a resource in terms of emancipation (both for males and females) and acquisition of social and economic power (Appadurai 1981; Bynum 1987; Avakian 1997; Abarca 2006; Williams-Forson 2006; Cairns et al. 2010; Allen, Sachs 2012; McLean 2013; Parsons 2015). Relevant in this respect are also works on food and masculinity (Hollows 2003; Parasecoli 2005; Naguib 2015).

If food is in itself an extraordinary source of investigation since it immediately and tangibly reflects how socio-cultural systems are transformed, adapted and reorganized, a gendered perspective on food is undoubtedly always open to new contributions and analyses. From the "explosion" of food in show business and its new celebrities (star-chefs) – that has certainly engaged an increasing number of males in professional cooking renewing the relationship between food and masculinity and in some cases recreating forms of exclusion on a gender basis – to the emergence of new food styles and new forms of food supply that have spread globally in line with the changes and transformations of geo-social structures and of life styles, research has kept pace with the dynamism of social phenomena. Themes that might deserve further attention, especially due to recent transformations, are therefore: new forms of colonialism such as the first world aid economy affecting gender access and sovereignty rights over edible resources as well as the preparation, supply and consumption of food in native contexts (old and new taboos, old and new paradigms as the imposition of different hygiene and health regulations), in urban and rural territories (Cottino 2018; Peveri 2012); the global phenomenon of street food, a food style assuming diverse gender connotations according to place and its greater or lesser "traditional" presence on territories (Tinker 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003; Cardoso et al. 2014; Kaller et al. 2017); "bodyweight" and its relation to food in the construction of subjectivities and social relationships (Kulick, Meneley 2005; Cottino 2013; Mauriello 2018; Warin, Zivkovic 2019); the relationship between food and migrant communities, especially in its gender declinations (Abbots 2012, 2016; Gasparetti 2012), Since food is always "on the move", further topics of interest are the new/ ancient diets and dietary regimes as resistance forms against domination over other human and non-human beings (i.e. veganism versus speciesism/ sexism), which nowadays intersect with the legitimacy of other sexualities or gender identities, also in relation to the environmental issue (queer eco-feminism) (Simonsen 2012; Hall 2013).

All these elements come to be considered in a theoretical perspective that takes into account how and to what extent different contexts produce different effects on the vision of food and on the relationship between food, nutrition and the construction of subjectivities. Since the histories of diets are contextual stories sewed by a wide range of social actors, the intertwine of food and gender can be framed in a perspective that includes and embraces the dimension of the self in relation to others, in both material and symbolic sense. Cases such as eating disorders are examples of how the relationship with food is conditioned by a series of factors, and actors, including the vision of the body that is harnessed in far-reaching historical, geographical, and socio-cultural processes.

This special issue calls for papers that engage with Food and Gender in the various entangled ways outlined above, as well as in other appropriate ways. Specific topic areas may include, but are not limited to:

Food and gendered body norms/ image

Food and motherhood/ maternalism (breastfeeding, between nature and culture…)

Food and masculinity (it’s a [male]chefs’ world, super-foods)

Food and gendered spaces

Food, gender and new styles of consumptions (in urban and rural contexts)

Food and families (of all kind)

Street food and gender

Food, gender, and migration

Queer vegan and vegan eco-feminism

Dieting and (other) diets

Eating disorders

Food insecurity and gender inequity

New forms of colonialism and new native food practices in a gender perspective

Food sovereignty and gender

Indigenous gendered knowledge on food


Abstracts (max. 12 lines long; max. 10 keywords) must be in English and should be sent by October 15 2020 to Marzia Mauriello , Gaia Cottino and Anne Dupuy .

Full papers, in French or English (max. 8000 words including notes and bibliography) will be due by January 31 2020.

Final publication: 2nd semester 2021.

Please conform to the editorial guidelines at


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