Project Title: National identity: Gastropoetic aspect. Historical, international and interdisciplinary contexts.

Project No.: LZP-2019/1-0294.

Project objective: Research how the depiction of food, drink, cooking, meals, taste, pleasure and hospitality is a manifestation of national identity in literary texts.

Project description. In literary texts the phenomena related to food and drink are characterized not only as items which meet the basic human needs, but also as versatile and abundant cultural artefacts and pretexts for wider communication. The research in this project looks at food and drink in its symbolic representations in various texts concerned with eating and drinking, as well as in texts in which recipes and the preparation of food play an important part in the overall narrative.

Food and drink are connected to natural and geographical characteristics (e.g., the traditional Latvian black peas or layered rye bread are not to be encountered in Southern Europe), political processes and transformation of cultural codes. For this reason the project is an interdiciplinary one, and experts from various disciplines participate in it. The main focus is on the 20th century as it is very complex from a historical perspective and during which the functions and meanings of food and drink change rapidly both in daily life and in literature. The works of Latvian, Baltic German, Hebrew and Russian literature are examined from a gastropoetical perspective in order to recognize the similarities and differences in literatures which have been produced in one and the same cultural space and historical timeframe.

Food and drink have a close connection to national identity, as one of the definitive factors that create a sense of belonging to a particular ethnic group is the traditional cuisine. National identity is socially constructed, and this aspect has not been researched from a gastropoetical aspect in Latvian culture.

Timeframe of the Project: January 2020–December 2022

Principal Investigator: Dr. philol. Ieva Kalniņa, professor, University of Latvia, Faculty of Humanities, Head of Department of Latvian and Baltic Studies.