Patterson and Banks, “Christianity and Food”

Patterson, Barbara A.B. and Shirley M. Banks. 2013. Christianity and Food: Recent Scholarly Trends. Religion Compass 7(10): 433-443.

Abstract: Today’s scholarship on Christianity’s relationships with, to, and through foods, performatively, theologically, and ethically, must address global constituents and claims. Recent scholarship on Christianity and food moves from the usual markets of textual research, socio-cultural histories, and ethnography to more interdisciplinary approaches stirred by global Christian communities and concerns. This article highlights shifts in more traditional, field-related scholarship about Christianity and food while demonstrating why global Christian perspectives not only build from that research but also push beyond it. The field-related scholarship is reviewed using four frames or categories, offered as organizing and heuristic help. They are the following: socio-cultural and comparative; lived religion and ethnography; feminist, womanist, and liberatory; and global. Two types of material broadly inform these frames: historical and textual, and ethnographic and lived or practiced religion. The current and future diversity, needs, and claims of global Christian communities and contexts cannot be contained or wedged into scholarship traditionally bound to these field-situated approaches. Scholarship related to Christianity, and food must embrace interdisciplinary and innovative strategies shared among world-wide scholars and practitioners. From questions about community identity, to celebratory feasting and observant fasting during, cultural and seasonal cycles, including Eucharist and earth care, the future of research in global Christianity and food promises a feast of possibilities. Scholars will find a rich range of challenging issues involving faith and practice tuned to global viewpoint on ritual and performance, theologies, colonial resistances, and global alliances and politics.