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Decolonise My Cup Of Tea

Thursday, 21 June 2018
6.30 – 8pm

We were joined by Ben Coles, Rebecca Earle and Dr Lisa Palmer as they explored the origins of some of our most loved foods and looked at the micro politics, journeys, histories and contexts that came to form the British diet. The conversation touched on areas of food colonialism and migration, food politics and the re-materialization of food’s cultural geographies.

Indulging the specialism of our invited guests the discussion diverted into conversations around fast food and fast ethics, looking at the chicken as the contemporary colonial food source and how colonialism impacts us today. We also touched on ideas around food authenticity and connections to identity, whilst talking about the British food and its colonial legacy. We shared stories and experiences over the not so humble cup of tea.

To celebrate Refugee Week we highlighted the contribution that refugees and migrants have bought to our communities. Looking at the numerous journeys undertaken by plant and food substances we re-familiarized ourselves with the abundance of tastes and experiences that make up the British Isle that would not be possible without the movement of people.

Ben Coles is a broadly trained economic and political geographer who researches the intersections between commodities and markets, with a particular focus on food. Of particular interest to Ben are the ways in which markets and economies in the abstract sense are grounded in everyday practices and processes of the marketplace, and other places of production and consumption. Ben has researched questions surrounding the ‘geographies’ of commodities and foods (coffee, wine & chickens) and  production/consumption/in-between (markets, farms and factories). Since 2011, Ben has lectured on economic and political geography at the University of Leicester. 

Rebecca Earle teaches history at the University of Warwick. She’s a cultural historian, who has written about clothing, identity, colonialism, letter writing, the invention of national histories, and, lately, food. She is currently writing a history of the potato, which explores the connections between everyday life and the pursuit of happiness.

Dr Lisa Palmer is the Programme Director for Black Studies and a Senior Lecturer in Sociology. Her research specialises in lovers rock music, black feminism, popular culture, intersectionality and community archiving. Her work and interest in community archives stems from her previous career as a Librarian for Birmingham Libraries and Archives. She is also the co-editor of the Blackness in Britain.