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The Kitchen as the New Venue of Foreign Policy

WHO: Experts on conflict cuisine, culinary diplomacy, food security, and gastrodiplomacy.

WHAT: Conference about food as diplomacy as a tool of U.S. foreign policy, ethnic restaurants' impact on cultural awareness, integration of immigrants, and tastings of "conflict cuisines".

WHEN:    April 21, 2015, 10 a.m. –3:30 p.m.

WHERE: American University, School of International Service, Abramson Family Founders Room (Intersection of New Mexico and Nebraska Aves., NW see map here)

BACKGROUND: Food security has expanded from development economists and humanitarian organizations into the halls of the Pentagon. Connecting the relationship between food and conflict is new. Corn riots in Mexico, food being used as a weapon in Somalia and sub-Saharan Africa, or the bombing of Syrians in line at bakeries are but a few food security issues that have made headlines. Analysts have linked food insecurity, climate change, and natural and man-made disasters. Today food is being discussed as a national security issue as it is central to stabilization in fragile states and prevention of new conflicts in many countries recovering from war. Middle power countries such as Peru, Korea and Thailand are employing a form of food diplomacy- gastrodiplomacy both formal and informal, to open channels of conversation, encourage tourism and build bridges of understanding.

Refugees and survivors from conflict have brought pho, wat, arepas, and papusas to Washington and other parts of the United States. They are the reverse culinary diplomats who provide this city with a unique terroir, conflict cuisines. 

American University's Johanna Mendelson Forman united her long international career as one of the founders of the Office of Transition Initiatives at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and working at the World Bank's first Post Conflict Unit to director of Peace, Security and Human Rights at the United Nations Foundation and as a senior adviser to the U.N. Mission in Haiti. Mendelson Forman writes frequently on the subject and has organized this conference to explore several areas: Culinary Diplomacy, Gastrodiplomacy, and Conflict Cuisine: Defining the Field;whether food builds peace or drive conflict;and Culinary Diplomats and Nation Branding. It will also feature a conversation about immigrants' stories about food and community. The conference would not be complete without a tasting of conflict cuisines. See the complete conference program below.

10 a.m. Welcome and Introductions

Anita McBride, served as First Lady Lauran Bush's chief of staff and now serves as an executive-in-residence, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, School of Public Affairs.″   

Johanna Mendelson Forman, scholar-in-residence, School of International Service (SIS)Why Conflict Cuisine? Why Now? 

10:15-11:30 a.m. Panel I –Culinary Diplomacy, Gastrodiplomacy, and Conflict Cuisine: Defining the Field

Tara Sonenshine, professor, George Washington, University, and former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy
Paul Rockower, Levantine Communications
Kimberly Reed, executive director, International Food Information Council
Sam Chapple-Sokol, @culinarydiplo Blogger

Moderator: Professor Gary Weaver, founder and director, Intercultural Management Institute, SIS

11: 45 a.m.-1p.m.Panel 2 - Does food build peace or drive conflict?

Yael Luttwak, president and CEO of Slimpeace, and filmmaker Christine Fair, associate professor, Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service, author of Cooking in the Axis of Evil
Manolia Charlotin, director, Feet in Two Worlds Program, The New School, New York, NY
Roger Mark De Souza, director of population, Environmental Security, and Resilience, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Moderator: Professor Lou Goodman, dean emeritus, SIS 

1:15-2 p.m. Tasting Conflict Cuisine

Food stations from Diaspora Chefs in the Nation's Capital:
A conversation with Chefs Benjamin Velasquez, Mariano Ramos, Sonia Gutierrez Center, Carlos Rosario Charter School, Chef Carlos Cesario, and Sileshi Alifom, owner, DAS Ethiopian with Washington Post Staff Food Writer Tim Carman   

2:15 - 3:15 p.m. Panel 3 Culinary Diplomats and Nation Branding

Counselor Adriana Velarde, Head of Cultural Diplomacy, Embassy of Peru, Washington, D.C.
Ambassador David Killion
, former U.S. Representative to UNESCO
Patricia Jinich –chef of the Mexican Cultural Institute, Washington, DC and host of Pati's Mexican Table, PBS, and cookbook author
Brian McNair, executive director, World Central Kitchen, Chef Jose Andres' international food NGO

Moderator: Ambassador Anthony Quainton, diplomat in residence,SIS

3:15 - 3:30 p.m. A Closing Conversation: Is the Kitchen a Venue of Foreign Policy?   

Nikki Silva, co-host, The Kitchen Sisters, producers of NPR's duPont Award winning series Hidden Kitchens and Johanna Mendelson Forman, scholar-in-residence, SIS


American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.