Foodways and Society in Southern Oman

My current research focuses on food practices in the Dhofar region, specifically in relation to the concepts of how food is used to show personal generosity and how eating together defines and enhances social relationships. As part of this project, I will discuss photographic representations of food and food-related practices and spaces.


I begin with a description of practices and perceptions of buying, making, eating and disposing of food among one group of tribes in southern Oman. I will cover details of food preparation (who makes what kind of food in which location), as well as when, where and how food is eaten. I will also compare Dhofari food traditions with anthropological accounts from Yemen. Once the overview of food culture is established, I will discuss recent changes in food culture including expanding selection of foods, hiring people to help with cooking, dieting, monetizing food and cooking methods.

Generosity – article submitted to academic journal

This article begins with an explanation of the necessity of being generous with food among one group of tribes in southern Oman. After an overview of changes in the diet and available food choices in Dhofar, the article explains that being generous with food is obligatory for both men and women and can be divided into four categories: required, balanced, unplanned and planned. Further, food is one, but not the only, way to affirm and strengthen personal ties and there are religion-based benefits relating to food generosity. Lastly, showing generosity is not about the cost or presentation of the food but about the actions and implications. People are not judged on what they give so much as the when, how and why. This work has evolved from an odd contradiction I have observed over the last twelve years when having meals with the Dhfoari men in my research group: the men both hate to waste food and always make much more than in necessary in case anyone comes by chance.

You Are Who You Eat With – article in preparation

This paper will explore the practices and perceptions of eating dinner among a group of tribal, Arab Muslims in southern Oman. I am especially interested in how the presentation and sharing of food is used to show respect and solidarity.

Representative Images either sent to me (and used with permission) or posted on informants’ social media sites

Linking food/ drinks to hospitality for Ramadan – Images of food/ drink in Ramadan greetings

Images of food used to convey greetings – Examples of typical images for greeting

Images of food used to convey hospitality by depicting “we are ready for our guests” – Images of completed food preparation

Image of food used to convey a family’s joy when a family member is feeling better –  Example of food prepared for celebration of recovery from illness

Images of food and drinks in outdoor settings – Images of food and drink in nature

Kitchens –  Example of Kitchen – 1990s/ early 2000s – note: high counters with raised platform for oven, open cupboards (sometimes with sliding doors), small separate storage room, washing machine in one corner, tiled walls

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