Eating portrays stories of our individual lives as well as expectations for our common futures. In this way meals may be said to intertwine the individual and universal. They are highly intimate and open at the same time. During meals we can connect and relate to each other. Meals are also institutionalised and often instrumental ways of caring. Some institutions have approaches to caring that may have importance to the development of citizenship. Salvation Army’s Gatehospitalet is one of the few hospitals in Oslo were all meals are shared between patients and staff. Some of the patients represent the invisible citizens of Norwegian society. Through a field study at Gatehospitalet I have participated in meals and this thesis investigates and compares the results from the study to contemporary theories on citizenship.
Contemporary debates on citizenship address how people may become citizens beyond legal status, rights and obligations. We are moving towards new understandings of what makes citizenship and how to address difference without returning to stigmatising classifications. Important in these debates are issues concerning marginalisation. Some are exploring how difference should be voiced and acted upon in the public space, acknowledging each persons political potential.
It seems that both citizenship and caring are contested, and investigations that include these charged issues are addressing some immediate questions of our time.