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Bibliography “Food as Heritage”


Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 693289

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Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 693289

The following bibliography is conceived as a selection of international literature on food as heritage and as a marker of identity within the huge amount of works recently produced on the topic of food. The bibliography has been produced within the “Food as heritage” project, being conducted at Bologna University and coordinated by Ilaria Porciani, with a team composed of Massimo Montanari, Paolo Capuzzo, Raffaele Laudani and Marica Tolomelli. “Food as heritage” is part of a wider project financed within the frame Horizon 2020, “CoHERE”, “Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe”. CoHERE explores the ways in which identities in Europe are constructed: cultural policy, museum display, heritage interpretation, school curricula. In this framework, the Bologna team adds culinary traditions to other forms of heritage, bringing together the cultural construction and invention of traditions, social practices, commercial practice, tourism, public policies and marketing strategies.

The bibliography is conceived not as an exhaustive product, but rather as a useful tool for food scholars and as a data base to be implemented through time. Publication as an open access online data base clearly expresses this destination.

As the project aims to identify the roots of food as a marker of identity and heritage, the main perspective is a historical one. As is widely recognized, heritage and identities are not existing entities but rather processes of appropriation developed by certain groups, communities, societies. These processes of heritagization (or patrimonialisation) are indeed the product of a cultural construction of food. Food cultures are naturally non static, as they are constantly being reproduced and reinvented with new symbolic values. Thus, a historical perspective allows one to deconstruct some cultural paradigms, historicizing them and focusing on the process by which they formed. Nevertheless, studies ascribable to anthropology, sociology, political science and psychology have been included, considering an interdisciplinary approach to be typical of food studies.

The bibliography consists of 3,002 entries indexed with 3 different criteria. Firstly, a chronological criterion places the study in its historical period. Then, geographical indexation shows the places and areas involved. Geographical references have been released – if possible- from the national framework, so localities or regions have been specifically indicated. Moreover, the bibliography has been organized into 4 thematic areas, in which food emerges as a marker of identity and heritage.

1. Through its link to a geographic location, food is firstly a territorial heritage, thus marking territorial identities. The terroir for example, strongly links food and heritage itself to a precise place, endowed with its own natural elements and a genius loci as well. It also refers to culturally rooted food traditions, the knowledge and practice of which are deeply embedded in a definite geographical space and ritualized on several occasions, from tourist circuits to festivals and memorialization processes. These territorial identities can develop on different levels: local, regional, national, transnational, global.

Deeply connected to territorial identities are the food labelling procedures performed by national and international institutions. Such procedures, especially those under UNESCO and the European Union, tend to recognize and officialise - sometimes even to produce - these territorial identities, occasionally even giving rise to conflicts among contradictory claims.

In referring to these topics, the section devoted to “Territorial identities” is composed of the following tags:

Territorial identities

  • Local identities
  • Regional identities (with reference both to sub-state and to transnational regions)
  • National identities
  • Global connections: referring to the hybrid character of territorial identities as a result of global (trans-state or trans-local) connections, due to the circulation of foods and food patterns. These exchanges and connections often happened in imperial contexts (colonialism) or as a consequence of migrations or diasporas (migrations).
  • Food labelling: referring to food labelling procedures and designation of origin processes introduced by national and international institutions, especially UNESCO (Intangible Cultural Heritage List and Creative Cities of Gastronomy) and the European Union (PDO Protected Designation of Origin, PGI Protected Geographical Indication and TSG Traditional Specialities Guaranteed). This tag has also been used for studies focusing on the topics of terroir, authenticity, typicality, quality and traditionalism in foods, as being deeply connected to these procedures.

2. The second section of the bibliography focuses on food as a marker of cultural identities. In this case the process of appropriation is performed by definite groups – even transversal to territorial partitions – using food to build social classis, religious, generational, gender and political identities.

Tags have been assigned to these various cultural identities in the following way:

Cultural identities

  • Religious identities
  • Social identities: with peculiar reference to the class identities (working class, middle class heritage) but also referring to figures and kinds of work connected to cuisine and gastronomy (chefs, cooks, workers in food industries and the catering field)
  • Political identities: with reference both to food policies and to movements and activism supporting various different food patterns.
  • Gender identities
  • Generation identities

3. The third section is devoted to a specific mechanism in the process of food heritagization, that is the representation and transmission of food knowledge. As regards the transmission of knowledge, oral transmission of family recipes and the circulation of cookbooks are among the most decisive guardians of tradition and contributors to building, reinforcing and reinventing it as well.

A crucial role is also played by the representation of food, both in art/literature and in the media, from newspapers to cinema to television, especially in the light of contemporary overrepresentation of food in TV shows and Reality TV. In the age of digital reproduction, food is also represented in the social media, for example cuisine and recipe websites and blogs, and in the field of marketing and advertising. An important kind of representation of food as heritage and a marker of identity (mainly territorial identity) is ascribable to tourist guides and brochures, especially at a moment when culinary and gastronomic tourism has gained a pivotal role on tourist circuits. Another field of food representation is medicine and health at various epochs, while nearly all discursive formations about food convey meanings bearing on identity and heritage.

This third section is composed of the following tags:

Representations and transmission of knowledge

  • Transmission of knowledge: referring to the production of cookbooks and the transmission of culinary knowledge and practices from generation to generation.
  • Representations of food: referring to representations of food in art, literature, mass media (journals, cinema, TV), social media, marketing and advertising, tourism, medicine and health, discourse about food.

4. The final section of the bibliography collects various aspects of the anthropology of food, conceived as places, objects, rituals whose evolution historically contributed to marking territorial or cultural identities. The tags for this section are organized in the following way:

Anthropology of food

  • Rites of food identity: religious rituals, habit of dining out, festivals, ordinary and celebratory meals.
  • Objects of food identities
  • Places of food identities: restaurants, dining rooms, taverns, canteens, cafes, kitchens, as well as spaces with a food-connected identity like monasteries, schools, work canteens, hospitals, prisons.

Some classic studies or works of general interest are tagged as “food studies” or “food history”.

The bibliography also has a section composed of websites. Some important newspapers and journals (like The Guardian or The New York Times) as well as television stations (such as CNN and Al-Jazeera) devote webpages to the topic of culinary heritage. Moreover, many associations all around the world (from Europe to USA to India) deal with this topic and organize seminars and educational projects, often in collaboration with the main food industries. A part of this website collection focuses on food museums, conceived as spaces of codification and representation of culinary heritage. Some references are finally devoted to research projects on the topic of food as heritage being run in academic institutions.

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