top of page

Our History

The origins of “Designing Domestic Dining” date back to 2019 when team members from Carleton University, Algonquin College, and Ingenium: Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation decided to embark on a collaboration meant to engage with communities who are underrepresented in national collections. As part of the renewal of the Canada Science and Technology Museum (which, together with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Agriculture and Food Museum, is operated by Ingenium), the team responsible for the domestic technology focused exhibition, Technology in Our Lives, set out to find stories of diaspora and community within the national collection. Representing equity deserving communities was one of the main goals of the renewal of the museum but it posed a challenge to exhibition teams. Historically, technology museums have focused their collections on preserving narratives and material culture of innovation and change and not, necessarily, on stories of personal use and experience.

For Ingenium, the Designing Domestic Dining project was an opportunity to explore the intersections of food, memory, and space to better understand the relationship between particular communities and technology. In the service of Ingenium’s priority, the project brought together research interests of team members David Dean (professor and co-director of the Centre for Public History) and sociologist, Dr. Helin Burkay, who were working on a project on food and diaspora, with an interest in interior design and the role of everyday users of space and their heritage practices shared by Dorothy Stern (interior design professor at Algonquin College) and Michael Windover (associate professor at Carleton University and adjunct curator of design at Ingenium). The research team also included curators from Ingenium, Anna Adamek, Rebecca Dolgoy, and Emily Gann, as well as students from a variety of programs, from interior design at Algonquin College to Public History, History and Theory of Architecture, Art History, and Industrial Design at Carleton.

For this tightly scoped project, the team decided to reach out to members of Anatolian communities in the Ottawa (and later Montreal) regions, largely due to the affiliation of Dr. Burkay with these communities. Through engagement with participants, we stopped using “Turkish” as an umbrella term for all members and, through consultation with community members, adopted the more geographically associated and neutral term “Anatolian.” This term better reflected and highlighted for us the diverse and complex range of subject positions held by community members.

The original plan was to organize a one-day, in-person event at the Agriculture and Food Museum in March 2020, where invited participants would make a dish of personal significance. While making the food, they would discuss its importance, and we would share the food together at the end. The event was to be recorded both through audio- and video- technology, as well as in drawings made by students from a 4th-year Algonquin College Bachelor of Interior Design course that Stern was teaching. Documentation would be archived at Ingenium. This was not to be. Within days of the planned event, we all went into lockdown because of the covid-19 pandemic. What we lost in terms of a multi-sensorial and gastronomically pleasurable experience, was made up for, in part, with a new concept for the project, as we moved online.

The move online not only changed the dominant modality for exchange between our team and the participants of this oral history project; it also affected the duration, the outcomes, the qualities of our interactions, and even the composition of the team and the study’s participants. The shift from a live event to a digital platform resulted in the recruitment of some new participants, as not all of the original community members were comfortable with Zoom technology. In the end, the team developed a memory-collage recipe book (available as a PDF on this site), educational resources for school-aged students, and a physical exhibition that links back to this site for audio clips.

bottom of page