Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food 2017

Making Sense of Taste (topic)

From which angle does a scholar approach the concept of taste? Is it primarily an objective, chemical quality, or should it be considered a product of culture? And are these perspectives wholly incompatible? The physical quality and flavour of food and drink preoccupy molecular biologists, gastronomic professionals, and bon vivants. Chemists, among others, construe classification systems, aspiring to help us understand the complexity and the possibilities of flavour. Mediators and their audiences may oftentimes embrace subjectivity, by detailing their intimate and embodied experience of taste. Neither approach is new: historically, classification systems have had major cultural and religious significance, whereas the conception of ‘good’ food – as opposed to ‘bad’ food – and its application in mechanisms of social distinction is at least as old as class-based societies themselves. Clearly, discussions about taste have always been informed by an array of physiological and psychological experiences, not just our palates.
This year’s Symposium aims to address this complex notion of taste: its characteristics, its cultural evaluation, and its history.

date: Friday, 17 November – Saturday 18 November 2017
Venue: Aula of the University of Amsterdam, Singel 411, 1012 XM Amsterdam.



Friday, 17 November 2017

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

10:05 – 10:30 Professor J.M. van Winter Stipendium

10:30 – 11.00 Keynote lecture by Peter Klosse

11:00 – 12.30 Panel 1 – Taste and its Representations

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch break

13.30 – 14.00 Caro VerbeekIn Search of Lost Scents

14.00 – 15.30 Panel 2 – Taste and Power

15.30 – 16:45 Tea break

16:45 – 17:30 Prize-giving Ceremony of the 2016 Johannes van Dam Prize and the 2016 Joop Witteveen Prize
Drinks at Special Collections UvA.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

09:00 – 09:30 Coffee
09.30 – 10.00 Joanita Vroom, Mink van IJzendoorn and Anouk EvertsA Matter of Taste: The Experiment of a ‘Byzantine Taste-lab’ Placed in Socio-Historican Context

10.00 – 11.00 Panel 3 – Networks and Public Tastes

11.00 – 12.00 Panel 4 – (In)authentic Tastes

12.00 – 12.30 Wrap-up by Viktoria von Hoffmann

Afternoon Programme of the Foodie Festival at Special Collections of the UvA (festival starts at 13.00)


Call for Papers

Abstract submission is closed.
Please look here for the CfP: Call for Papers 2017.


The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food has been made possible with the generous support of Amsterdam University Fund, Amsterdam School for Historical Studies of the University of Amsterdam and The Huizinga Institute.