Slavery food, soul food, salvation food: veganism and identity in the African Hebrew Israelite Community

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Abstract

This paper reviews the transformation of meaning of food items central to African American fare from symbols of slavery to means of salvation as the African Hebrew Israelite Community (AHIC) live out their Biblically inspired lifestyle and perfect the vegan diet at its core. Although originating in Chicago in the late 1960s, for over 40 years the institutional and residential base of this transnational millenarian community has been in the Israeli desert town of Dimona. Based on long-term ethnographic acquaintance with their foodways in Israel and in the US, our analysis follows the AHIC’s eclectic incorporation of circulating religious, political, and scientific theories into their Bible-based cosmological-nutritional tenets of regenerative health and spiritual salvation. We argue that their ‘Edenic Diet’ reacts to the traumatic history of African Americans as slaves and as a discriminated against minority in the US, by serving as a means in their struggle for place and acceptance in modern Israel and an active component in their social and spiritual plans for the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-220
Number of pages16
JournalAfrican and Black Diaspora
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 May 2018

Keywords

  • African American foodways
  • Black Hebrews
  • Israel
  • divine diet

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