Historical Foods in West Africa: European Travel Writings as Problematic Sources for African Foodways

Wednesday 19 October 2022
Time
12:00pm - 12:40pm
Location
Online event
Cost
Free
Type
Lectures and seminars
Audience
General public

Join us to hear Dr Iona McCleery, School of History, University of Leeds, deliver a talk on ‘Historical Foods in West Africa: European Travel Writings as Problematic Sources for African Foodways’.

The Global Food and Environment Institute (GFEI) is delighted to invite you to join our October 2022 webinar ‘Historical Foods in West Africa: European Travel Writings as Problematic Sources for African Foodways'.

During this talk, Dr Iona McCleery, School of History at the University of Leeds, will highlight the findings from her research in this area.

Rice, oysters, elephant, millet, palm wine, and grains of paradise. These are some of the foods described by Europeans who first visited the coastline between what is now Senegal and Ghana (and the islands of the nations of Cabo Verde, and São Tomé and Principe) in the mid-15th century.

Agricultural production, meals, and feasts frequently appear in these texts. These writings are often the only sources for the foods that were eaten before colonization and before the imposition of industrialized monoculture.

This is also the period just before and just after the start of the Atlantic slave trade, and therefore saw the beginning of trans-Atlantic food exchanges (the arrival of maize and potatoes, for example).

The descriptions often tell us more about European habits and expectations than they do about African foodways, but if used carefully they can be revealing about food cultures in West Africa during a period of great change.

Dr McCleery's areas of expertise are: history of medicine, food, healing miracles, Portugal and its early empire; and she has been at the University of Leeds since 2007.


The event will start with welcome and introductions from the Chair, followed by a 20-minute webinar presented by Dr Iona McCleery, and 10 minutes for Q&A.

The seminar will be chaired by Dr Stephen Whitfield, University of Leeds.

Please contact globalfood@leeds.ac.uk with any queries.