Soup is a Community Arts / Diversity Studies Studio course based on the concept of soup. It can be difficult to find commonalities when examining such diverse multiethnic societies as the Bay Area yet all cultures in their own distinct culinary traditions have a history with some form of soup. As part of the new ENGAGE at CCA initiative, which combines project-based learning with community engagement, this course will work in collaboration with La Cocina, a non for-profit incubator program that cultivates food entrepreneurs as they formalize and grow their businesses. Located in the culturally diverse Mission neighborhood, La Cocina focuses primarily on working with women from culturally diverse and immigrant communities. Key to this partnership, students will be working with five women from La Cocina’s Food Entrepreneur program to make a soup that has special significance to them. The goal of the course is for students to not only help in the preparation of soup during each cooking session, but also to engage in a dialogue with the guest to gain a better understanding of the dynamic histories (per- sonal and collective), social and cultural events and traumas that are often contained within a particular recipe. It is important to note that this course is not solely about how to prepare soup but rather uses soup as a fulcrum for the collection of testimonies from these women and to gain a clearer, more inti- mate understanding of their communities. Some of the over arching questions we will be addressing include:
In what ways can we use art and design to address issues of cultural diversity, migration and cultural displacement?
How can we use soup-making as method to record and communicate non-linear histories and personal testimonies?
How can representing these histories in varied and dynamic manners assist a small incubator program like La Cocina in telling it’s story?
This is a research-intensive course. Participants in the course will be responsible for utilizing various qualitative research methods such as interviewing, photography, writing, mapping and other forms of documentation in order to design a representation of the community partners’ stories. Critical under- standing within the course is supported by intensive readings on culinary anthropology, qualitative re- search methods, immigration, cultural democracy, oral history, and subsequent discussions along with multiple site visits. Students will be expected to bring their own extensive personal and medium-based experiences to bear on this course. This course will culminate with a collective presentation of a class- designed document (cookbook/website/dvd?) to La Cocina.