Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food 2016

Fire, Knives and Fridges (topic)

The material culture of cooking tools and techniques

This year’s topic is inspired by the renewed interest in traditional cooking and preservation techniques, such as baking and fermenting, but also by innovations like sous-vide cooking and molecular gastronomy. Since prehistoric times humans have used tools, such as fire, grindstones, and knives to transform raw ingredients into edible food. Anthropologists such as Claude Lévi-Strauss and Richard Wrangham have suggested that it is the discovery of cooking which sets humans apart from apes and makes us a “cooking animal”. In their view, advancements in the technology of cooking mark the human transformation of (raw) nature into (cooked) culture.

From the control of fire onward, technology defines the way we eat: what we eat and cook depends on how we cook it. Tools and techniques are first adopted because they meet a certain need or solve a particular problem, but over time they become an integral part of food culture. Yet, they do not emerge in isolation, but through interaction with local resources, cultural preferences, technological innovations, prosperity levels, and beliefs. The symposium aims to explore how cooking techniques, skills and tools as a form of material culture have shaped food cultures and eating habits – and vice versa.

logo ASHF 2016

Date: Friday, 15 January – Saturday 16 January 2016
Venue: Aula of the University of Amsterdam, Singel 411, 1012 XM Amsterdam.



Friday, 15 January 2016

09:00 – 10:00 Registration and coffee
10:00 – 10:05 Welcome Steph Scholten

10:05 – 10:15 Professor J.M. van Winter Stipend 2016

10:15 – 10:45 – Keynote lecture by Ruth Oldenziel

10:45 – 11:15 Coffee break

11:15 – 12:15 Panel 1 – Culinary Identity Formation

12:15 – 12:45 Alexandra Gaba-van Dongen: Cooking tools as artist props : culinary utensils in art

12:45 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 15:30 Panel 2 – Food technologies and practices : an archeological approach

15:30 – 16:00 Tea break

16:00 – 16:30 Mary Beaudry: Gastronomical Archaeology: Food, Mealtimes, and the Materiality Aesthetics of Dining

16.30 Drinks


Saturday, 16 January 2016

9.30 – 10:30 Panel 3 – Cooking tools: usage and interpretation

10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break

11:00 – 12:30 Panel 4 – Re-interpretations of technology

12:30 – 12:45 Conclusion Steph Scholten

Call for Papers

Abstract submission is closed.
For the CfP please look here:  Call for Papers 2016.
The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food has been made possible with the generous support of Amsterdam University Fund, Amsterdam School for Culture and History of the University of Amsterdam, the Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) research unit of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Doctoral School of Human Sciences of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

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