Learning through Food at the American University in Dubai

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  • Title: Learning through Food at the American University in Dubai: The Case of Middle Eastern Studies Students’ Experiences
  • Author(s): Pamela Chrabieh
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Food Studies
  • Journal Title: Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
  • Keywords: Peace Education, Middle East, University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Food Experiences, Food Stories
  • Volume: 9
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2160-1933 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2160-1941 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2160-1933/CGP/v09i01/1-16
  • Citation: Chrabieh, Pamela . 2018. "Learning through Food at the American University in Dubai: The Case of Middle Eastern Studies Students’ Experiences." Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9 (1): 1-16. doi:10.18848/2160-1933/CGP/v09i01/1-16.
  • Extent: 16 pages

Abstract

This article introduces its readers to an interdisciplinary approach in teaching and learning about cultures of Southwestern Asia and North Africa at the American University in Dubai. Selected as one of the United Arab Emirates Innovation Week’s officially registered activities in 2015, this activity combines anthropology of food, sciences of religions, and irenology and is a major application of the peace education pedagogy I have been developing since 2004. The article also presents the preliminary results of qualitative research on the local food cultures’ experiences of more than 500 students from different backgrounds who are enrolled in diverse Middle Eastern studies courses. In my classrooms, students were exposed to—and they told—stories of families, migrations, assimilation, resistance, hybridity, war, and peace and dealt with issues ranging from cultural appropriation to food security and food as an identity marker and the religious significance and representation of food. Class activities such as live food production (e.g., “Hummus Laboratory”), food storytelling sessions, and food diplomacy activities contributed to their learning of local cultures and building peace. Students reported having acquired visceral experiences of foreignness and familiarization, global identity formation, and intercultural dialogue.