Heritagisation and identification processes in Flanders, 1945-2000

Anneke Geyzen

The recent societal attention for culinary heritage is accompanied by new research queries within the Food Studies movement. They aim at scrutinizing contemporary heritage experiences in terms of a search for identity and feelings of belonging; their main thread of thought deals with the global homogenising trends that have characterised the development of the food chain since the Second World War and the consequential attempts to preserve a sense of geographical or historical distinctiveness. Notwithstanding the valuable insights offered by these particular queries, it has to be pointed out that they all too often present ahistorical research results that obtain a taken-for-granted acceptance of the relationship between so-called historical cuisines and identity. As a historian, I want to overcome these pitfalls by adding a historical dimension to the query and by investigating whether or not historical cuisines actually contribute to feelings of identity and if so, to what identity/identities they refer. More specifically, I will have a closer look at the relationship between heritagisation – i.e. the appropriation of certain aspects of the foodscape by means of a conceptual repertoire containing notions such as authenticity, tradition, grandmother’s cooking and geographical indications – and identification processes in Flanders between 1945 and 2000. I will use three women’s magazines of different ideological backgrounds in order to find out when heritagisation comes to the surface, why and how and to what identity/identities the appropriation alludes.