Join us for the TWENTIETH Southern Foodways Symposium, October 5–7 in and around the town of Oxford, Mississippi.
THIS YEAR, SFA FOCUSES ON EL SUR LATINO. Through lectures, tastings, and experiences, SFA reframes ideas about ethnicity and identity. We embrace the demographic destiny of our region and our nation. This event honors the active Southerners of El Sur Latino who chose to raise families and grow businesses in this newest of New Souths.
Our year of programming began in Birmingham, Alabama, and Charlotte, North Carolina. In advance of our Summer Symposium, SFA collected oral histories from first- and second-generation Southerners who work along Charlotte’s Central Avenue corridor. To prepare for this weekend, SFA documentarians have done spadework across the region, interviewing the owners of tortillerías, panaderías, and taquerías from Lexington, Kentucky, to New Orleans, Louisiana. This weekend, you meet some of those oral history subjects in Oxford. Through SFA-produced films, you come face-to-face with some of our region’s unsung heroes and heroines.
SFA has booked a robust roster of speakers. Stepping to the podium will be old friends like Gustavo Arellano, Gravy columnist and author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America; and Steven Alvarez, a Smith Symposium Fellow, who developed a Taco Literacy class for his college rhetoric students. Joining them will be new collaborators like Monica Perales, who teaches history at the University of Houston and co-directs the Gulf Coast Food Project; and Michelle Garcia, a journalist and filmmaker with bylines in Guernica, Columbia Journalism Review and The Oxford American.
Guests will savor breakfasts of mote pillo, an Ecuadorian hominy and egg dish. And appetizers of catfish-stuffed Venezuelan arepas. And chicken pot pies, threaded with chiles and served atop chile de arbol–spiked greens. We feast on tortas born of Mexico, inspired by Cuba, and nurtured in Argentina. Look for mango smoothies, chocolate chimichangas, and flights of flans. We won’t stint on drink. Attendees will enjoy Tabasco-spiked bloody Marys, terroir-defined wine from Virginia, aguas frescas born of Monterrey, and Bourbonritas inspired by Lexington and Tijuana.
Our art and performance commissions return with vigor. Lina Puerta, a Colombian-born artist, examines the relationship between nature and the body, focusing on agricultural work, using mixed media to tease out dynamics of control, consumerism, and human fragility.
The weekend culminates in a performance by La Victoria (Vaneza Mari Calderón, Mary Alfaro Velasco, and Rosalie Rodriguez), a modern mariachi band that references traditional forms to tell new stories of Mexican American life. La Victoria uses corridos, the Mexican ballads that often narrate historical events and frequently focus on injustices, to address contemporary labor issues. La Victoria will work with SFA oral history subjects and other Symposium collaborators to write and debut new corridos and revisit old ones, including “Enganche del Mississippi,” first recorded in the 1930s.
Your staff continues to jigger the schedule to present SFA oral histories, films, and lecture commissions in the most reasonable and accessible ways. Note that we have moved our arts performance to Saturday night to ensure that all attendees have a chance to see and hear what has become a signature Symposium production.
NEW THIS YEAR IS A MEMPHIS DIVERTISSEMENT, focused on the ways immigrants negotiate Latino identities in that river town and its suburbs. The Thursday afternoon event is priced at just $40, and is scheduled from 2–5 p.m.
You will note that this Symposium costs $95 less than last year. SFA is committed to making our event accessible for all. Because we equitably pay all speakers and chefs, the SFA symposium will never be cheap. We stage our events on a true break-even basis. Symposium fees do not underwrite oral histories, films, visual art commissions, or live performances. That documentary funding comes from donors. What you pay for this weekend reflects the actual event costs SFA incurs.
In May of 1998, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture hosted the first Southern Foodways Symposium. Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar and Grill cooked the inaugural Symposium luncheon. This year, Guadalupe Castillo, master of the Highlands raw bar, takes the stage.
In 1998, SFA founders John Egerton and Jessica Harris challenged attendees to gather at a true welcome table. Since then, the region has welcomed a new generation of Southerners. For the 20th Southern Foodways Symposium, SFA founder Lolis Eric Elie returns to challenge SFA members so that we may recognize anew the import and resonance of welcome table ideals.
Since 1999 the SFA has operated as an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.
Generous corporations, foundations, and individuals fund our work.
Piggy Bank Dinner Series