Edible Matters: A Sensory Symposium

Convened at the School of Communication, the University of Technology Sydney

May 10-11, 2016

• sen-sa-tion: n. 1. A perception associated with stimulation of a sense organ
or with a specific body condition. 2. The faculty to feel or perceive.
• symposium n. 1. a conference or meeting to discuss a particular subject. 2. a drinking party or convivial discussion

This symposium offered experiential opportunities for scholars to participate in two walking excursions designed to activate our senses: a food tour and a food forage. Participants used the excursions to discuss sensory and mobility methods, analytic vocabularies, and research fieldnotes.

Day One focused on a food tour of Sydney’s China and Thai towns, run by the social enterprise Taste Tours, with specific attention to the racialised, gendered, and classed dimensions of sight, taste, touch and smell. Following the walk, leading food studies theorist, Dr. Jean Duruz of the University of South Australia reflected on these issues through her own extensive body of work on food, memory, class, gender, and ethnicity.

Book Launch: Food Pedagogies by Rick Flowers and Elaine Swan

Day Two took us to Western Sydney Parkland where we participated in a wild food forage run by Diego Bonetto who helped us identify and harvest edible and medicinal wild plants. In the afternoon we returned to UTS for a debriefing session on questions of settler colonialism and the politics of land. Dr. Charlotte Craw, Curator at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and author of a number of important papers on the cultural politics of Indigenous foods and heritage offered a guest presentation on the representation of Australian native foods in relations to discourses of nature, Indigenous culture, and nationalism.

Funding for the symposium is from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as part of the www.walkinglab.org research grant on walking and sensory methodologies. The event was co-hosted by Dr. Elaine Swan, University of Technology Sydney and Dr. Stephanie Springgay, University of Toronto.