Spiritual Flavours: Reflections on using creative practice to explore food and religion in a multi-faith suburb

Cuch, Laura. 2022. Spiritual Flavours: Reflections on using creative practice to explore food and religion in a multi-faith suburb. Doctoral thesis, University College London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This practice-related doctoral research comparatively investigates the relationship between food and religious material practices of several faith communities in Ealing, a suburb in West London. These include a Synagogue, a Sri Lankan Hindu Temple, a mosque, a Sikh Gurdwara, an Anglican church, a multicultural Roman Catholic church and an ethnically diverse Pentecostal church. The research is centred around the development of an arts project, Spiritual Flavours, which comprises a photographic series, a twenty-eight-minute film and a recipe photobook. Whilst the photographic series uses a formal approach to explore the spatial arrangements of commensality within religious buildings, the photobook and the film focus on personal narratives, bringing together a diverse range of intimate experiences of food and spirituality across both domestic and worship spaces. The film also produces a rhythmic and multi-sensory experience by creating visual and sonic synchronies and asynchronies across the three main protagonists through the use of the split-screen technique and the creative mixing of sounds of cooking and prayer. With a very interdisciplinary approach, drawing from visual cultures, cultural studies, and social sciences, the thesis analyses the kinds of knowledge that each of these visual elements produce individually and combined. Here, it specifically draws on literatures on material religion, on food, memory and the senses, and on performativity, to explore the centrality of food in everyday religious practices in ways that are inseparable from the material practices involved in the creative process itself. This forms the basis for further analysis of the way the project produces ‘multifaith’ understandings of culinary religious practices as sensory, affective and embodied (spiritual) practices; as well how these intersect with other personal and socio-cultural dimensions, such as experiences of migration, identity, home and community. This research also develops an original exploration of the opportunities and challenges of visual practice as research practice. It contributes to understandings of participatory creative methodologies in how its outputs produce new multi-faith relationships and disseminate research knowledge that is accountable and meaningful to the participants and communities involved, as well as wider audience.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Additional Information:

An open access version is available from UCL Discovery.
Copyright © The Author 2022. All rights reserved.


food, spirituality, multi-faith, creative practice, photography, film, visual methods, cookbook, recipes, material performativity, cultural geography, material religion, home, migration, Ealing

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


5 January 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

17 Jun 2022 08:34

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:19



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