Whether you are a gourmet, glutton or epicure a veritable feast of topics from the ritual of tea drinking to cannibalism will be served up at a conference on food and drink at The University of Nottingham on 11 and 12 April 2008.
The archaeology of food and drink isn't just about digging up old pots and bowls. Originally concerned with nutrition and later with economics, archaeologists now recognise that research into the production, distribution and consumption of foodstuffs has the potential to reveal much about the ideology and structure of past societies.
The conference, entitled Food and Drink 2008: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, is being staged at The Djanogly Arts Centre on University Park. It will highlight the growing importance of current postgraduate research of food and drink in archaeology.
Organiser Sera Baker, a PhD student in the Department of Archaeology, said: “After the success of our first event we recognised to that this truly is a relevant and quickly expanding area of current postgraduate research. In 2008 an even wider range of topics on food and drink are being highlighted from as far as the Americas to Europe to China. Funding received from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and The University of Nottingham permits us to offer a professional conference uniting researchers studying foodways, from which the proceedings will be published.”
The conference will consider the use of food to construct religious and other identities; it will examine how tableware and utensils can teach us about different social and cultural cuisines; there will be scientific and theoretical discussion to enhance understanding of consumption practices in the past; and the examination of how and why socio-economic change is frequently mirrored by shifts in the procurement, distribution and consumption of foodstuffs.
In her keynote speech Dr Hilary Cool, Finds Specialist at Barbican Research Associates, will look at ways to develop and refine new interdisciplinary methodology in the research of what we eat and drink. She said: “Over the past few years eating and drinking have become very fashionable topics in archaeology. The change in perceptions is most welcome as eating and drinking — how it is done, who it is done with, when it is done — is the glue that holds societies together.”
Encouraging delegates to sip tea while she speaks, Annie Gray, a PhD researcher at the University of York, who specialises in historic food, will question their assumptions about tea and women and what these assumptions are founded on.
Annie Gray said: “When first introduced to English society in the mid-seventeenth century, tea-drinking was viewed as an elite frivolity. Yet a century later it was drunk widely even at the lowest social levels in England and in the years following the wars of the early nineteenth century it successfully carved out a fundamental place in the English social landscape.”
This is the second annual Food and Drink Conference to be held at The University of Nottingham.
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Notes to Editors
: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THES) World University Rankings.
It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia.
Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy).
Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for three years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.
Additional information can be found at www.nottingham.ac.uk/archaeology/research/conf_fooddrink.php