Call for Papers 2015 Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food

Topic: Food, Hunger and Conflict

24 March 2014

On 16 and 17 January 2015 the second Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food 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: Food, Hunger and Conflict

When in today’s world we are confronted with the suffering of the hungry, we see them as victims in need of support, whether we pass them in the street or see distant strangers on the news. The study of the concept of hunger has shown that we cannot take this vision for granted. James Vernon indicated that it is the result of a history of changing ideas surrounding the concept of hunger. Whilst it once was recognized as the unavoidable hand of God, this later changed to a discourse of morality and individual responsibility. Those without food were seen as lacking discipline and in need of education.

The foregoing indicates that a need arises to understand definitions of what hunger represented for both those with and those without access to food to comprehend social and cultural interactions and political operations. Research into different sources can shed light on how existing ideas on poverty and hunger interacted with discourses and perceptions, strategies for survival, charity and aid to grasp what it meant economically, politically but also socially and culturally to be without food during times of prosperity, shortages, conflict and war. Through the mediation of the study of hunger strikes for example, one can study relationships of power, frameworks of culturally defined ideas of resistance, bodily integrity, sacrifice and social dynamics.  Different experiences and cultural framing have significant effects on perception and remembrance of hunger, power, poverty and war.

Call for Papers

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

  • Governmental interferences: state intervention, import/export, price regulations and prohibitions, agricultural policy, food committees,  food as national symbols and boycotts of ‘enemy’ food (e.g. Boston Tea Party), food blockades, propaganda for surrogates, charity, black markets as coping mechanisms.
  • International aid & national solidarity: food committees, charity, soup kitchens, grain dispensation.
  • Cultural representations of hunger: meaning and symbols in texts and images  (cookbooks, menus, media, propaganda, film, art, literature, poetry) during times of war and shortages, construction of ideas of resistance and oppression using food as a medium (hunger strikes), food as a showcase of power relations and scientific opinions (force feeding of suffragettes, food in prisons), religious interpretations of shortages and hunger.  

Guidelines for Paper Proposals

The conference program consists of plenary keynote lectures, paper presentations and panel discussions. If you are interested in presenting a paper at the conference, please submit an abstract before 15 May 2014. Please expect to be presenting to a large audience of up to 300 people, including academic as well as professional participants. The conference language is English. Presenters of accepted papers are asked to speak 20 minutes, followed by a discussion with the panel and the audience under the supervision of a session chair.

Applications should include:

  • title of proposed paper;
  • abstract (maximum 500 words);
  • biographical information (short CV);
  • contact information (email, telephone and postal address).

Applications should be sent by the deadline of 15 May 2014 to:

Notification of Acceptance

As it may not be possible to include everyone’s submission, the organizing committee and advisory board will make a selection. You will be notified if the paper is accepted by 30 June 2014.

More Information and Updates

ASHF logo

Organizing Committee

Filip Degreef; Paul Koopman; Joke Mammen; Antonia Mazel; Nathalie Parys; Garrelt Verhoeven.

Advisory Board

Prof. Dr. Ir. Louise O. Fresco; Mrs. Claudia Roden; Prof. Dr. Peter Scholliers; Prof. Dr. Irene Zwiep.


Published by  Special Collections UvA