Food, Identity and Symbolic Metaphors in the Bengali South Asian- Canadian Community
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Migration is a process that allows people to circulate from one place to another as they seek resources and search for new beginnings. The study of the South-Asian Bengali community in Canada, conducted in Southern Ontario show how women of first, second and third generation have adapted, resisted and acculturated with the Canadian mainstream. The purpose of this research is to convey the intricate connections between food and identity in the lives of Bangladeshi-Canadian women between 19-25 who call Canada their home, using participant observations and semi-structured interviewing. Food is a marker of ethnic identity in a globalized, migrant community; cultural and social issues governing the consumption of food products serve as a marker of regional, national and gender identity. In the Bengali diaspora, food is a symbol of tradition and a link to ethnic identity as younger generations of South Asian-Canadian women maintain, conserve or oppose traditional values, while engaging in identity construction. The research asks if rituals surrounding food practices still retain a traditional meaning and fulfil the same expectations or if the experiences of acculturation and immersion into mainstream Canadian society transformed the conceptions of food, gender and ethnicity construction amongst contemporary Bengali South-Asian Canadians. It will furthermore explore gendered ideologies regarding food, its consumption and transmission of social values. In the end, food and gender provide a lens through which identity construction in the diaspora is revealed.