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Cooking Together and Living in Harmony

Migration is one of the oldest phenomena in human history. Nevertheless, controversial attitudes and discourses still challenge us. In Switzerland, the proportion of the foreign population is 25 percent; far more people also have a migratory background.

At a time when globalization is creating multiple affiliations, walls are being built, national borders are being tightened and people are being discriminated against on the basis of their origin. However, our future essentially depends on how we can change our perception and learn to see migration as an opportunity.

The project of cooking together, living in harmony provides both theoretical and practical insights into today‘s dealings with people on the run. The initial idea was to create a participatory living space for young adults who have fled their home country. However, the house owners did not permit any changes to their properties, which is why the project failed. While cooking and eating together, it quickly became clear that the young men involved in the project were longing to talk and exchange ideas with Swiss people. They had learned to appreciate the opportunity to ask questions, discuss things and practice the German language. Thus, our topic increasingly crystallized: How can the living conditions of young adults be improved in concrete terms? Our answer aims to include and mix all people. The ensuing exchange promotes mutual understanding and empathy. Eating together provides an insight into each other‘s culture with its traditions, customs, and traditions. Smells can awaken memories, and participation is experienced by cooking: the participants are involved in decision-making issues, self-empowerment is promoted and social networking develops.

“The kitchen is not only a place where food is prepared, but also the setting for individual and social life – a place where cultural forms take shape, are practised or newly combined”, write cultural mediators M. Blohm, S. Burkhardt & C. Heil.

Katja Meile Institute of Art and Design Education, BA thesis, 2019