University of Amsterdam starts symposium on the history of food

The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food in the Low Countries

11 February 2013

In January 2014 the first annual Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food in the Low Countries will take place at the Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The Amsterdam Symposium is the result of a collaboration between the Special Collections, UvA, the Institute of Culture and History, UvA and the research group on Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Topic of 2014:

COOKING UP THE LOW COUNTRIES : Textual and Visual Representations of Culinary Culture in Belgium and the Netherlands (16th-21st century).

According to the prevailing stereotype, Belgian culinary culture is Burgundian and hedonistic in nature. In sharp contrast stands the image of Dutch culinary culture, which is believed to be rational and frugal. These images are the result of social construction, of representations made in textual and visual sources.
It is the aim of this first edition of the Amsterdam Symposium to investigate in depth how and in what types of sources (household manuals, cookbooks, magazines, menus, pamphlets, novels, newspapers, advertisements, paintings, photographs, TV-shows, etc) such representations were cooked up, who the agents were who produced these sources, what messages were constructed in these sources and what their functions were.
This will allow us to look beyond today’s clichés concerning Belgian and Dutch culinary culture, to identify which other images have been constructed since early modern times, and to determine the convergences and divergences between Belgium and the Netherlands in this field.

The conference program will consist of keynote lectures, paper presentations and a panel discussion.

The conference language is English.

Date: 17 January 2014

Call for Papers:

We invite papers on topics including, but not restricted to the following:

  • Food & identity: concerning the connection between food and local, regional, national and collective identities. Including migration, imperialism, invented tradition, authenticity, heritage, and social status.
  • Food, morality & ethics: concerning the representation of virtues and sins such as drunkenness, frugality and excess. But also ethical consumerism, such as vegetarianism, product boycott, and Slow Food.
  • Food, rituals & religion: regarding the link between food, religious prescriptions, rituals, taboos, feasting and table manners.
  • Food, body & health: concerning the construction of healthy food, food as medicine, food safety and adulteration, diets, thinness and obesity.
  • Food, aesthetics & material culture: including gastronomy, cookery, “taste”, artefacts, the architecture and design of eating and drinking (table, kitchen, café, restaurant, retail and supermarket). 


If you are interested in presenting a paper at the conference, please submit an abstract before 15 April 2013.

Applications should include:

•             Title of proposed paper

•             Abstract (in English, maximum 300 words)

•             Biographical information (short CV)

•             Contact information (e-mail, telephone and postal address)


Applications should be sent by the deadline of 15 April 2013 to:

Notification of acceptance: June 17th, 2013



Organising committee:

Paul Koopman (ICH); Antonia Mazel (UvA); Joke Mammen (Special Collections, UvA); Nathalie Parys (FOST); Garrelt Verhoeven (Special Collections, UvA)



Advisory board:

Prof. dr. ir. Louise Fresco; Mrs. Claudia Roden; Prof. dr. Peter Scholliers; Prof. dr. Irene Zwiep


Published by  Special Collections UvA