"We are very proud and very tempted and determined to make this food"

How Immigrant Muslim Women Preserve Cultural Identity Through Food

  • Saraf Nawar Rodyna University of Victoria
Keywords: identity, food knowledge transmission, food accessibility, cultural food practices, cultural foodways


Food plays a critical role in an individual’s maintenance of cultural identity and social connection. The process of preparing, sharing, and consuming cultural food (i.e., cultural foodways) serves to connect immigrants to their families, communities, and cultures—especially when experiencing a new way of living in an unfamiliar environment. Limited access to cultural food resources can contribute to feelings of isolation or a loss of culture; therefore, continual engagement in cultural food practices is crucial for migrants to maintain their identity and well-being. This study explores the relationship between cultural foodways, identity maintenance, and well-being among immigrant Muslim women. Through semi-structured interviews conducted with two immigrant Muslim women and through personal self-reflection, the intersections between gender, religion, and culture reveal the complexity of immigrant lives in relation to food. Participants describe their experiences navigating cultural food accessibility and identify how cultural food practices, especially the sharing of cultural food, affirm their cultural identity and contribute to their well-being. By engaging in cultural foodways, the participants situate their identities in the present, connect to their cultural histories, and imagine opportunities for the continued transfer of food knowledge.


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Author Biography

Saraf Nawar Rodyna, University of Victoria

BA (in progress)
Department of Sociology
Areas of interest: food justice; environmental sustainability; immigrant rights; intersectionality; Islamic worldviews 


Artist Biography

Morgan Holder, University of Victoria
BSc (in progress) 
Department of Anthropology
Areas of interest: anatomy; archaeology; biomedical visualization; biological illustration



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An image of an orange by artist Morgan Holder
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