with Cassandra Marsillo, Hannah Pinilla, and Amanda Whittaker
This panel discussion delves into the rich crossing of food history and oral history by exploring the connections between migration, the concept of home, and food narratives. Each of the panelists’ research focus on the storytelling found within the pages of cookbooks, identity and memory formation through food practices, and the enduring weight of emotion and trauma throughout migrant lives. The event aims to highlight the significance of preserving and sharing stories related to food, migration, and family, and ultimately contribute to the growing research on diverse and interconnected migrant experiences.
Cassandra Marsillo is an educator and public historian, based in Tiohti:áke (Montreal), telling and listening to stories about immigration, identity, collective memory, food, and folklore, particularly in relation to the Italian-Canadian experience and traditions from her family’s region, Molise. She has an MA in Public History from Carleton University, in Ottawa. Currently, she is teaching in the department of History and Classics at Dawson College.
Hannah Pinilla is an oral historian and MA student in public history with a specialization in digital humanities at Carleton University. Her SSHRC-funded master’s research project, “El Sabor del Hogar: The Transformation of Identity and Memory Through the Food Practices of Colombian Migrants in Quebec,” engages nine Colombian migrants, living in Montreal and Longueuil in oral history interviews facilitated through cooking sessions, to explore how the narration, preparation, and consumption of ‘home foods’ is a form of embodied and interactive diasporic memory work. Her research question was guided by my own lived experiences as the granddaughter of a first-generation Colombian-Canadian: how does the dialectical relationship between identity and memory manifest through food practice and what impact does it have on the process of home-building?
Amanda Whittaker is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto in the Department of History. Her research is driven by her interest in the field of food studies, gender studies, and migration history. In her doctoral thesis, she examines the experience of migration and how it may have altered the development and preservation of migrants’ foodways. Using the oral history testimonies of over 60 first and second-generation migrants, her project is a study of métissage that explores the cultural negotiations, preservation, and exchange that occurs when migrants arrived in Montreal in the post-1960 period. The conceptual framework of her dissertation centers on the notion of “emotional transnationalism” which refers to the rupture as well as the nostalgia of migration, and considers the embodied forms of remembering and reimagining, where food and cuisine play a central role.
Currently, she is teaching and in the process of writing her dissertation, but she gains most of her insights from afternoons with her interview partners where quips, memories, and shared emotions are never in short supply. Her professional experience includes course instructing at the John Abbott College, the University of Toronto, and guest lecturing at Marianopolis College and UTSG.
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In-person in LB-1019 (Sunroom), COHDS
COHDS/ALLAB is located on unceded Kanien’kehá:ka territory, in Tiohtiá:ke/Montreal.