Between us bread and salt : Battiri cuisine and al-’ūnah

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Howard, Amber Joy

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Recently food-based reporting form large press agencies, such as the New York Times and others, have favored headlines and instances of resistance emanating from the home or domestic sphere. These timely concepts of the power of food and the kitchen to maintain, reinforce, and create an avenue for engagement with a place of origin and an identity have long informed movements within Palestine. This work focuses on the small village of Battir close to Bethlehem and Jerusalem that has engaged with their agricultural practices and their land-connected kitchens as the platform from which to resist the construction of the Israeli security barrier. Through exploration of local dishes, this work approaches Palestinian resistance through the new avenue of al-’ūnah (collaborative work) as a means of expanding the popular concept of Sūmūd, as well as, to address gender, space, domesticity, and identity. The movements in Battir showcase the efficacy of food practices in community building and the strategies now being engaged to maintain critical space under occupation. The location of the fieldwork also expands the narrative of Palestinian struggle that regularly focuses on destroyed villages and displacement. Battir is one of the few villages that has continuously been inhabited for two millennia and saved from destruction during the Nakbah, the 1967 war, and continual village appropriations and depopulation today. To sit at the Battiri table is to understand the visceral connection its people have to the land that they work and thus the impetus for the struggle to maintain their practices and agricultural legacy.


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