Header image for the course page


We have a time and place for you!

Of Dishes, Taste, and Class: History of Food in the Middle East

History 3748 - Summer 2019

When the 13th century author Ibn al-Adim from the city of Aleppo, Syria, titled his book on food Reaching the Beloved through the Description of Delicious Foods and Perfumes, he was perhaps not concerned so much with simply how to satisfy hunger. Thinking through the title alone opens a window for us on all sorts of cultural, social, economic, and political questions about food and drink. Our history as humans with food is long and complicated. It extends from seeking basic nutrition to sustain our livelihood to contracting diseases. Food also plays a fundamental role in how humans organize themselves in societies, differentiate socially, culturally, and economically, establish values and norms for religious, cultural, and communal practices, and define identities of race, gender, and class. Food has been one of the most visible signs of social status in any given society and a vital part of many movements of political and social reform and transformation. Food has been a major question in trans-regional, international, and recently global cooperation and conflict as well. This course will cover the history of food and drink in the Middle East to help us understand our complex relation with food and look at our lives from perspectives we intuitively feel or by implication know, but rarely critically and explicitly reflect on. This course does not intend to spoil, so to speak, this undeniably one of the most pleasurable human needs and activities, but rather to make you aware of how food shapes who we are as individuals and societies. We will study the history of food and drink in the Middle East across the centuries until the present time, but be selective in choosing themes, geographic regions, and historical periods to focus on. Course work is geared toward increasing your ability to think about food and drink analytically as a socio-economic and cultural capital, noticeable marker of identity, and indicator of a political position. In a sense we will try to tease

Section 11

Of Dishes, Taste, and Class: History of Food in the Middle East
View Course Listing