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Raúl Matta

University of Göttingen, Institute of Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology - (FIAS Program)
Culinary Sustainability: Culinary workers as drivers for a sustainable future
01 September 2021 -
30 June 2022
Social anthropology and ethnology

Raúl Matta is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology, University of Göttingen. He conducts research at the intersection of the anthropology of food, cultural heritage and cultural studies, with an emphasis on the cultural, social and political uses of food and cooking by different actors and stakeholders. He has held research and teaching appointments in France, Germany and Malaysia and conducted fieldwork in Peru, Mexico, Germany and Malaysia. He has directed and held leading roles in research projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the French National Research Agency (ANR), and the HERA JRP/ Horizon 2020. His work has been published in journals such as Social Anthropology, the Sociological Review, the International Journal of Cultural Property, Food and Foodways and in several edited volumes.

In September 2021, he joined the Paris IAS as part of the French Institutes for Advanced Study fellowship program - FIAS - co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 945408. His fellowship also benefits from the support of the RFIEA+ LABEX, with a national funding (Grant ANR-11-LABX-0027-01). 

Research interests

Anthropology of Food, Food Studies, Critical Heritage Studies, Cultural Analysis, Urban Studies, Sustainability, Conviviality

Culinary Sustainability: Culinary workers as drivers for a sustainable future

Food and the socio-economic issues surrounding it comprise the ultimate challenge for the sustainable future of the planet. Food is central to several of the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) and figures into four of the EU’s six research priorities. This project probes into the UN and European policy debates on sustainable food and adds the underexplored perspectives of culinary workers themselves. Whereas the linkages between food and sustainability are evident, those between sustainability and culinary practice have been at the margins, even though culinary practice is instrumental if we are to achieve the SDGs.

This research explores the forces of different social and cultural realities and comprehends the complex and interdependent events taking place at the interface between sustainability, culinary workers and practices, and policy-making. It brings sustainability and professional cooking together as a critically relevant interdisciplinary area of research and application, where culinary workers are central drivers in the transformation of the food sector and in its potential enactment of sustainability measures.

This research ultimately aims at: 1) capturing a spectrum of visions for sustainable futures based on promising examples of culinary local initiatives and co-create sustainability narratives that resonate in, and are empowering for, the culinary sector, and 2) providing the basis for a novel theoretical framework for analysing the multidimensional ways in which sustainability and culinary practice intersect, tested through interactions with researchers, culinary workers and stakeholders.

Key publications

Matta Raúl, “Food Incursions into Global Heritage: Peruvian Cuisine’s Slippery Road to UNESCO”, in Social Anthropology, vol 24, n°3, 2016, p. 338-352. https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-8676.12300

Matta Raúl, “Heritage Foodways as Matrix for Cultural Resurgence: Evidence from Rural Peru”, in International Journal of Cultural Property, vol 26, n°1, 2019, pp. 49-74.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S094073911900002X

Latest publication

Matta Raúl, “Documenting the UNESCO Feast: Stories of Women’s ‘Empowerment’ and Programmatic Cooking”, in Social Anthropology, vol 29, n°1, 2021, p. 188-204. https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-8676.12990

Intersectorial forum organized by Raúl Matta (University of Göttingen and IEA Paris) and Charles-Édouard de Suremain (UMR 208 PALOC - IRD/MNHN) with the support of IEA Paris
20 Jun 2022 10:00 -
21 Jun 2022 13:00,
Paysages alimentaires conviviaux : pour aller au-delà de la durabilité alimentaire

Contemporary period (1789-…)
Western Europe