Las guerras del hummus: Comida local, récord Guinness y gastropolítica palestino-Israelí

Translated title of the contribution: The hummus wars: Local food, guinness records and the Palestinian-Israeli gastropolitics

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Jews and Palestinians have long been involved in a violent conflict over territory, resources and national identity, yet share a culinary passion: Hummus. This dip of mashed chickpeas seasoned with tahini and lemon juice is ubiquitous in Middle Eastern public and private culinary spheres and is extremely popular among Arabs and Jews alike. In 2008 hummus became the subject of a heated debate between Israel and Lebanon that revolved around cultu-ral copyright and questions of national heritage, as well as implicit economic considerations. In this article I discuss the so called "Hummus Wars"; a series of culinary events performed in Lebanon and Israel in an attempt to solidify hummus as an element of each nation's culinary heritage by setting up a world Guinness record for the largest Hummus dish. The ethnography of oneof these events, hosted at the Palestinian-Israeli village of Abu Gosh, highlights the unexpected role of mediators assumed by Palestinians of Israeli citizenship. Anthropologists are paying increasing attention to "local food" and to the cultural processes that define food as local, showing time and again how the idea of "our food" is constructed through constant processes of negotiation and adaptation. The Hummus Wars, however, are different in that the debate was not about accurate preparation, authentic recipes, embeddedness in the local ecology or terroir, nor is it about quality. Rather, it deals with blunt questions of ownership and power. The Hummus Wars' uniqueness is further intensified by the fact that this mundane and ancient dish is claimed by modern, relatively young nation states, involved in an active military conflict. While most of the scholarship highlights distinction, national pride and cultural purity, the Hummus Wars are all about appropriating the food of the other or, more precisely, appropriating the food of the enemy. Most importantly, these events are so intriguing be-cause of the unexpected and leading role of mediators undertaken by Palestinians of Israeli citizenship in the events. While social scientists tend to look at the culinary sphere as a reflection of social life, and on national dishes as symbolic representations of the nation, the analysis of these events reveals how national identities are negotiated and mediated within the culinary sphere and how minority groups participate in these processes of gastro-identity.

Translated title of the contributionThe hummus wars: Local food, guinness records and the Palestinian-Israeli gastropolitics
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)569-591
Number of pages23
JournalEstudios de Asia y Africa
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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