Culinary diasporas: identity and the language of food in Gisèle Pineau's Un papillon dans la cité and L'Exil selon Julia | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1368-2679
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9142


Gisèle Pineau's novels and create a translocational diaspora space through the semiotics of food in which North African and Caribbean cuisine become an important link between France and the French-speaking diaspora (the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia) amid the dispersal of exile and immigration. The economic and social marginalization of the African diaspora immigrants is compensated by the richness of their culinary traditions in which the mediating discourse of food becomes a trope of culinary nomadism. The novels focus on the anguish of exile, the pain of misguided loyalties, the difficulties of assimilation and adaptation, and the impact of globalization on the lives of the disenfranchised immigrants. At the same time, the novels celebrate the importance of orality, memory, and cultural resistance through the dynamics of food in the urban ghetto. Food becomes the language of creolization while providing the sometimes tenuous language of self-conception and identity. Food becomes a metaphor for diasporic continuity and cultural retention to provide a vibrant historical text.


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