Food A Making Sense of: Project

Call for Presentations

3rd Global Conference

Monday 15th September – Wednesday 17th September 2014
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

‘You are what you eat’ is a saying that usually signifies the influence of diet on health and well-being. When we turn this adage around – ‘What you eat is what you are’ – we see more clearly the broader implications of our ways with food. Our history and culture as well as our economic and social circumstances determine, and in turn are reflected in, the nature of our food consumption. The same applies to our personal beliefs and predispositions. Eating is an everyday necessity – and yet there is an immense variety in the manner in which we nourish ourselves. Furthermore, mostly due to circumstances beyond our control, not all of us humans have access to adequate nutrition. It follows that eating requires our attention, one way or another, throughout our lives, pleasantly for some, and desperately for others. Indeed, it has been observed that in rich societies people obsess about food because they have too much, and in poor societies they think about it all the time because they have too little.

The vicissitudes of consumption do not constitute the whole story about food. What ends up on the plate has usually arrived there after a long and complex journey – one which involves not only time and distance, but also a multitude of processes. The extent to which these are understood is by no means equal in all societies and cultures; some people live much closer to their food supply than others, and/or are more personally active in its production and preparation. Food is central to the economy of social systems at all levels; on global scale, food is deeply implicated in the overall economic and political circumstances of the contemporary world.

The inter-disciplinary project seeks to open up a multi-faceted enquiry into the ways in which food and its consumption are enmeshed in all aspects of human existence. In particular, the project seeks to foster discussion about the way in which meaning is constructed via food practices. Certainly to-day there is no shortage of commentaries on this subject, both in the public arena and within academia, and there is broad recognition of the place of food in the globalised economy – as well as of its role in discourses about international inequalities, climate change and public health issues. A focus on the perceived problems of the day, however, often results in specific ‘fields’ of study where the high level of activity, productive though it is, may create barriers to an understanding of different perspectives. This project will provide a framework for a broadly based dialogue concerning food and eating, and the ways in which food practices both construct and are constructed by larger issues such as identity, community, culture, taste, etc. It is our hope that this will put forth a variety of matters to be considered at a number of levels and from many different points of view.

Presentations, papers, performances, work-in-progress and workshops are invited on any issues related to the following themes:

Representations of food and eating:

  • The histories of food; repasts of the past
  • Reflections of food and eating in literature
  • Food and the performing arts
  • Portrayals of consumption in visual culture
  • Food and the modern media
  • Food as metaphor

Food and society:

  • Food at the interface with class and culture
  • The politics of food production and consumption
  • Food security: issues of quantity and quality
  • The industrialisation of food production and its counter-movements
  • ‘Foodism’: conspicuous consumption, or identity management?

Food and existential matters:

  • Eating and evolution
  • Food and group identity: food as manifestation of cultural origins and influences
  • Food as transmigration, diaspora and de-colonialism
  • Food and ritual
  • Eating as a need and as a want: what is appetite?
  • Food and philosophy

Eating and well-being:

  • Fearing food – fears and facts
  • Beliefs and controversies about food and wellness
  • Health, illness and food in medical discourses
  • The magic of food – ancient and modern; food as fetish
  • The role of ‘expert’ advice in eating practices
  • ‘Diets’ – disturbed eating patterns or rational action?

Working with food:

  • Food production and provision; pleasures and problems
  • The restaurant: guests’ perspective
  • Cooking and serving for customers
  • Being a chef: the reality and the mystique
  • Behind the counter of the gourmet store
  • The daily bread; making and baking

The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals.

In order to support and encourage interdisciplinarity engagement, it is our intention to create the possibility of starting dialogues between the parallel events running during this conference. Delegates are welcome to attend up to two sessions in each of the concurrent conferences. We also propose to produce cross-over sessions between these groups – and we welcome proposals which deal with the relationship between Fashion and Food.

What to Send:
300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 4th April 2014. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 11th July 2014. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: FOOD3 Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs
Nina Namaste:
Rob Fisher

The conference is part of the Making Sense of: programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook.  Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.


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