Pitas And Passports: Arab Foodways in the Windsor-Detroit Borderlands

  • Robert L. Nelson University of Windsor, Canada
Keywords Borderlands, Foodways, Identity, Arab, Detroit, Windsor
Keywords Borderlands, Foodways, Identity, Arab, Detroit, Windsor


Virtually all North American border foodways literature focuses on the U.S. Southwest, where an international boundary runs through an ethnic foodway. This research is enormously valuable, but Mexican food in the Southwest does not tell us much about a diasporic border-food community. What do we learn when we study an international boundary running through an ethnic minority, such as the Arab community that exists on both sides of the Windsor/Detroit border? When a foodway already struggles to find its identity within a hegemonic culture, how does that food community negotiate an international state difference right in its midst? Before 9/11, a “soft” border allowed for the existence of a large, interactive, regional cross-border Arab foodway. Since then, the thickening of that border has rapidly accelerated the formation of an “Arab Canadian” foodway in Windsor.

Author Biography

Robert L. Nelson, University of Windsor, Canada

Robert L. Nelson is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Windsor, Canada.