Feeding Flesh and Spirit: Religion, Food, and Race in Black American Life

“… both religion and culinary culture work together to assist black people to more fully articulate their humanity within a struggle for human dignity. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Derek Hicks Wake Forest University Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

This research explores the diverse and creative forms of culinary expression articulated through African American religious life. It considers the ways in which food, like religion, becomes an active repository of cultural resources available to those struggling for human dignity. I am primarily interested in the ways food discloses the “religious” in African American Christian experiences. By way of the shorthand phrase religio-gastronomy, this research explores the historical, social, political, theological, and practical components of African American Christian and culinary expression as they work in tandem to nourish and mend a wounded collective identity. Among several issues, this work will (1) examine perceptions of African American religious experience and food consumption in terms of perceived peculiarity; (2) investigate the representational import of religion and food on black bodies; (3) assess the significance of the fellowship table as an extra-religious space that helps maintain a complex religious life; and (4) study contemporary issues of food insecurity in the African American Christian community advancing culturally centered ways to respond through gastro-diplomacy.