Food as Culture

Abstract deadline: October 1, 2022

Article submission deadline: May 1, 2023

Food is the center of our lives. Beyond being the most basic means of survival, it is also a communal activity. Cultural and religious practices are suffused with food preparation rituals, and social gatherings inadvertently revolve around food or drink. While food enriches social bonds, it can also deepen social and cultural rifts. In the words of Guatemalan activist and Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchú, “We only trust people who eat what we eat.” While the delight of an exquisite meal can lead to a heightened state of almost spiritual ecstasy, it can also expose  grave inequalities, with the excess of ancient Roman feasts as a striking example. Food can create a sense of cultural belonging, but it can also be used as a form of obliteration and appropriation. A simple meal consumed contains layers of history, social commentary, and memory.
The centrality of food has made it inevitably present in works of literature and art since antiquity. This is evidenced in the upsurge in culinary studies in recent academic scholarship. This issue of Alif seeks to contribute to this scholarship from a multi-disciplinary perspective. It welcomes original articles on the varied representations and meanings of food and invites contributors to explore how literature and art expand our relationship to food and what questions they raise about it.  

Article topics might include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Food, history, and memory
  • Food and hunger: adequacy and scarcity
  • Mythological representations of food
  • Anthropological approaches to food
  • The psychology of food: eating disorders, self-images, etc.
  • Food and emotional bonding, sensuality, and eroticism
  • Food and gender
  • Economy of food distribution and access
  • The future of consumption, the environment, and animal rights
  • Food media: cooking shows, cookbooks, and social media
  • Food in/as visual art
  • Cannibalism and violence

Key Dates

October 1, 2022   Deadline for submission of abstracts (300 words)
May 1, 2023        Deadline for submission of full articles
Spring 2024   Publication date


Alif is a refereed, annual, multi-lingual, and multi-disciplinary journal published by the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo. Each issue revolves around a theme or a problematic, bringing together the views and approaches of scholars from all over the world.

Alif is electronically available on JSTOR and indexed on a number of prestigious databases including Scopus, MLA International Bibliography, SAGE, Index Islamicus, EBSCO, Project MUSE, and Literature Resource Center (Gale).

Submission instructions: An initial 300-word abstract should be submitted by October 1 2022, accompanied by the author’s email address, telephone number, and postal address. Articles based on accepted abstracts should be between 5,000 and 10,000 words and may be submitted in Arabic, English, or French by electronic mail, together with an abstract of 100 words and a 50-word biographical note on the contributor. Authors should consult the MLA Handbook (8th edition) for style in preparing their manuscript.

Only original articles that do not duplicate previously published work, including the author’s, and are not under review by another journal or collection will be considered.


Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, Dept. of English and Comparative Literature
American University in Cairo
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PO Box 2511
Cairo 11511, Egypt
T: +2.02.2797.5107

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