‘We would have no wars if there were more Dinners’: Food Hospitality Activism, Media Representations and Public Communications

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Alternative Food Politics From the Margins to the Mainstream, 2019, pp. 95 - 112
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In this chapter we analyse how a food social enterprise is visually represented in diverse social and mass media online platforms. We show how The Welcome Dinner Project uses photographic images to promote food hospitality activism, domestic welcoming and everyday intercultural commensality. We note how the visual trope of ‘home mode everyday multiculturalism’ characterises the images shown on the Facebook, twitter and Instagram platforms of the social enterprise. But when digital magazines and newspapers post stories about the Welcome Dinner Project, the images are remediated and represent the visual tropes of ‘food porn’ and ‘world on a plate’. These seemingly ‘innocent’ tropes and images of food adopt problematically racist scripts thereby undermining the original messages of the social enterprise. The Welcome Dinner Project influences how it is represented by providing images and content, much of which is re-used and re-circulated, but our analysis show that it cannot control how its images are re-used and re-semioticised or how digital images produced by other media organisations appear alongside verbal text. In particular, we analyse how the WDP’s images of welcoming are remediated in ways that fit racist scripts about whiteness, who counts as a ‘good’ migrant, and acceptable images of cultural and racial diversity. Like offline food media, online digital images of food can racialise, Other, and invoke and normalise whiteness.
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