CFP: Special Issue of Global Food History on Migrant Marketplaces

Elizabeth Zanoni's picture
Call for Papers
October 30, 2015
Ontario, Canada
Subject Fields: 
Atlantic History / Studies, Ethnic History / Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, World History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies

Call for Papers: A Special Issue of Global Food History on Migrant Marketplaces

Over the last two decades historical food studies have developed to articulate food’s central role in the culinary practices and identity constructions of migrant populations.  While this body of research has tackled critical questions about the creation of individual and collective subjectivities through food, the racialization of migrants and their foodways, and ethnic food entrepreneurship, the large majority of this research has been done within nation-centered, and particularly U.S. dominated, frameworks. This special issue of Global Food History on Migrant Marketplaces aims to dislodge research on migration and food from exclusively nation-based perspectives by considering migrants’ historical links to global trade routes.

Migrant Marketplaces provides a conceptual framework for internationalizing historical understandings of migrant food practices.  It builds off the premise that migrants opened up and sustained commercial networks of trade between migrants’ sending and receiving regions. Migrant demand for homeland ingredients and tastes facilitated the colossal transfer of foods and culinary knowledge across oceans and national borders and into the grocery stores, kitchens, and restaurants of ethnic enclaves.  Migrant marketplaces, therefore, are commercial spaces constituted by linkages between mobile people and mobile foods.  By linking migration directly to commercial flows, this special issue considers the complex ways in which migrants have shaped global food chains, and how in turn, global food chains have influenced migrants’ food cultures and practices, as well as migration strategies.

Historians of the Atlantic world have studied the migrations of early modern merchants whose travels in search of spices and other edible luxuries would come to transform cuisines worldwide. Less attention has been paid to migrants themselves—both voluntary and forced, and across different time periods—who drove global trade routes in food commodities from diasporic marketplaces.  Nor have scholars given sufficient attention to other regions such as Indian and Pacific Ocean migrations or movements within continents.  Historians of the mass proletariat migrations of the 19th and early 20th centuries have more explicitly linked ethnic culinary cultures to homeland foods.  Migrant Marketplaces offers an opportunity to reconsider migrants’ roles, as both laborers and consumers, in shaping the history of global foods.  Linking trade to migration also reminds us that histories of global foods are not detached from the political, legal, and economic policies and inequalities characterizing modern food systems, systems that have permitted or inhibited the mobility of certain ethnic groups. 

This special issue welcomes manuscripts that will push forward migrant marketplaces as a conceptual or theoretical framework for studying networks of migration and trade in various geographical and chronological contexts.  Historically informed contributions from scholars in disciplines outside of history are welcome.

Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

Ÿ The political economies of ethnic commodity chains

Ÿ Migrant food entrepreneurship

Ÿ The development and transformation of migrant food practices, values, and consumer patterns around homeland foods

Ÿ The corporatization of migrant marketplaces

Ÿ Migrant marketplaces as sites of culinary exchange and conflict between migrants and non-migrants and between different migrant groups

Ÿ Gendered and racialized practices and meanings around linkages between trade, migration, and food consumption

Ÿ The role of religion in the construction of migrant marketplaces

Ÿ The effect of trade and migration policy on migrant marketplaces

Ÿ Return or circulatory migration and its effects on global food cultures

Ÿ How sensorial experiences (tastes, smells, sounds, and textures) define migrant marketplaces

Ÿ Representations of migrant marketplaces

Ÿ Migrant marketplaces as a methodological meeting ground for social science and humanities scholars interested in trade and migration

Please send an abstract of about 500 words to by October 30, 2015.  Deadline for completed manuscripts: February 30, 2016. The anticipated publication date of the special issue is December 2016.  For more information please email Elizabeth Zanoni at and/or consult Global Food History’s homepage:





Contact Info: 

Elizabeth Zanoni, PhD

History Department, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Canada

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