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Abstract

This paper makes a contribution to food research and studies of mobility through analyzing food exchange in a translocal context. Furthermore, by focusing on Muslim women’s practices in the North Caucasus it also contributes to gender studies of post-socialism, which, for the most part, are based on the field material from the non-Muslim part of the Russian population. Anthropologists have viewed social changes through the lens of various food items or consumption patterns. I argue that adding a mobility aspect to the research centered on food can help us discover social changes and practices that may otherwise remain unnoticed. I will show that studying the dynamics of food circulation and human mobility may serve as a good starting point towards the broader study of societies. Thus, by taking people originating from the Shiri village in Daghestan as an example, I look into channels of food sharing to analyze the nature of reproduction of social relations within communities and the cultural entanglements created by the circulation of goods. Furthermore, the analysis of their vernacular practices reveals the existence of informal exchange networks, in particular the ones secured by and for women. Through these networks, food and favors are exchanged, and social bonds and feelings of obligation are created and preserved. Further analysis also reveals social changes connected with mountain abandonment, in particular the growing awareness of the weakening of tukhum (lineage) and village ties. These dynamics reflect recent changes in the Daghestani society that are connected with increased mobility and the processes of (re)islamization.
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