THE TASTE OF HOME: THE CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH COMMENSALITY AMONGST FEMALE MALAY STUDENTS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
Background and Purpose: Commensality is an act of eating together among migrant communities as a means of passing down the culture and ethnic identity. There is very limited discussion on commensality that pays attention to food sharing and eating that extends beyond the traditional forms of social relationships, identity, and space among the Malay community abroad. Thus, this article aims to explore the connections of social relationships through food, space and identity amongst female Malay students in the United Kingdom.
Methodology: This research is based on one-year ethnographic fieldwork amongst female Malaysian Muslim students in Manchester and Cardiff. Thirty in-depth interviews were conducted with both undergraduate and postgraduate students from sciences and social sciences courses. Besides, in-depth interviews, participant observation, conversation and fieldnotes methods were deployed as supplementary for data collection.
Findings: This paper argues that cooking and eating together in a private space is a way for them to maintain social relationships and overcome stress in their studies, and fulfil their desire to create harmony and trust at home. Besides, places such as the kitchen, play an essential space in building the Malay identity and social relationships between female Malay students’ communities in the host country.
Contributions: This study has contributed to an understanding of the meaning of friendship, identity, space, and the discussion on the anthropology of food from international students’ perspectives and migration studies.
Keywords: Food and identity, commensality, Malay students, friendship, international students.
Cite as: Ibnu, I. N. (2022). The taste of home: The construction of social relationships through commensality amongst female Malay students in the United Kingdom. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 7(1), 316-334. http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jonus.vol7iss1pp316-334
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