TrAIN Open Lecture: Michael McMillan | Introduced by Carol Tulloch | THE KITCHEN: MEMORY AND FOOD CULTURES |

Open Lecture


This event is free and open to all but places are limited so please RSVP to book your place, by emailing

The kitchen in the domestic interior is where cooking and sometimes eating is done and sometimes the informal social centre of the home. Embodied in the material culture of the migrant kitchen of Caribbean families are memories of dishes, tastes, cooking techniques, methods and shopping practices have been constructed and enacted as part of a Black British food culture. The dialectics of how this cultural boundary was constructed includes the entertainment and the containment of cultural difference in terms of cultural diversity, but also a resistance to a hegemonic English food culture.

But the emergence of a Caribbean food culture in the UK also maps the inter-generational shifts and negotiations in terms of how the second generation Black British young person identified with or disavowed the food culture of their parents. And food, dishes, tastes, cooking methods and eating habits could be a source of tension between parents wanting to give their children rice and peas and their children wanting fish and chips for instance.

Childhood experiences of food culture have a significant impact on us as adults in shaping our food identities and our earliest memories can be triggered by touch, taste and smell. Consequently, the relationship between food and identity is also contextually mediated by the interplay of sensory, emotional and cognitive experiences.

Michael McMillan is a writer, playwright, and artist-curator of Vincentian migrant parentage. Recent plays include: a new translation of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Sezuan set in Jamaica 1980 (2010), Babel Junction (2006) & Master Juba (2006).

His critically acclaimed installation/exhibition The West Indian Front Room (Geffrye Museum 2005-06) led to the BBC4 documentary Tales from the Front Room, and interactive website, as well as international commissions in Holland and the Caribbean. His recent publication is The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home (Black Dog Publishing 2009).

Other installations/exhibitions include: The Beauty Shop (198 Contemporary Arts & Learning 2008) and he was lead designer/co-curator of The Southall Story (South Bank Centre 2010). He is Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the London College of Communication (University of the Arts, London) and was recently awarded a practice based Doctor of Arts from Middlesex University.

Other forthcoming lectures are:

1st June: Stefanie Kettel, Balmoral Artist in Residence.

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    TrAIN Open Series

    The TrAIN Open series is a forum for invited speakers to present exhibition, publication, and research projects in the form of lectures, discussions and screenings.

    Taking place at fortnightly intervals on Wednesday evenings during the academic term, the series is open to the public, as well as staff and students across the University of the Arts London.
    Find out more about TrAIN Open Series

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