Analyzing Immigrant Food Cultures in New York City

By: Jennifer Duffy   Jennifer O'Brien  

Through the use of digital objects and in the context of a history course, students are exposed to the immigrant foodways of New York City. The curation of these digital objects impacts how data about these cultures is received by students, and ultimately influences the synthesis of the information conveyed by the digital object. Students are more receptive to an information literacy curriculum when born-digital objects, and digital copies of analog objects, are used to present content. The course, HIS 201 Immigrant NYC, examines the experience of immigrants and ethnic populations in New York City from the seventeenth century to the present. Topics covered include family, neighborhood, work, and the role food plays in building immigrant communities and the city of New York at large. At their own expense, students visit the Tenement Museum and participate in a multi-ethnic eating tour of New York City’s Lower East Side. Students in this course are exposed to primary and secondary sources dealing specifically with past and present immigrant populations in NYC and the foodways associated with these populations. Analysis of born-digital content, as well as digital copies of print primary sources (menu collection at NYPL, folk histories, personal letters, photographs, recipes, etc.), supplement information found in assigned texts. This course includes an information literacy component, and students are expected to think critically and creatively about informational need, and the material utilized : Where may one find reliable information about immigrant foodways? How is the information presented? Are there NYC "immigrant foodway experts?" Who/what are/were they? What defines expert in this context? How did they achieve this expertise? Are these experts impacting food culture? If so, which food culture(s)?

"Foodways", " Cuisines", " Digital Literacy"
Food Policies, Politics, and Cultures, 2018 Special Focus: Digital Food Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Jennifer Duffy

-, -, Western Connecticut State University, United States
United States

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Jennifer O'Brien

-, -, Western Connecticut State University, United States
Connecticut, United States

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