To share or not to share: Hierarchy in the distribution of family meals in urban Burkina Faso

  • Liza Debevec Scientific Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana and Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
Keywords: Burkina Faso, family meals, hierarchy, antropology of food, West Africa


Popular images of African family meals often present happy families who, despite great hardship, always share the little food they have among all family members. Through detailed ethnographic description of the various stages of the preparation and consumption of everyday meals of one extended urban family in Burkina Faso, this article discusses the complexities of the everyday food distribution of family meals. It shows that in urban Burkina Faso food is a both a means of bringing people together and of making clear distinctions between them, in terms of gender, age and economic hierarchy.