Jonathan Bishop Highfield is Professor of Literary Arts and Studies at Rhode Island School of Design is and the author of Food and Foodways in African Narratives: Community, Culture, and Heritage (Routledge) and Imagined Topographies: From Colonial Resource to Postcolonial Homeland (Peter Lang). His writing on postcolonial ecocriticism and foodways has appeared in numerous book and journals. He teaches courses on postcolonial literature and food studies and enjoys cooking.
Reading narratives through the lens of food and foodways reveals different ways that writers deploy agriculture, cooking, and eating to highlight the traumas of history, the emptiness of displacement, and the power of community. What I try to ask is what is food doing in the narrative? How does paying attention to it reveal something that Elizabeth A. Eldredge calls “a hidden transcript”?[i]The descriptions of preparing a meal, working in a garden, or butchering a chicken, seem so commonplace that the meaning instilled in those passages can go by without notice. What do those domestic moments reveal about the dynamics of gender, of power, and of class in narratives?