Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food 2018

Body  and Soul : Examining the historical relation between nutrition, health and culture (topic)

The act of ingestion ensures our intimate relationship with food. This literal ‘incorporation’ has implications that go far beyond basic physicality: it is precisely in the corporeal sphere that the cultural significance of our food habits is on display. Crucial to the connection between food and body is the concept of control. State institutions, medical professionals, and spiritual teachers have prescribed and proscribed dietary behaviour, exercising what Michel Foucault has termed ‘biopower’, in an attempt to regulate the nourishment of populations. Such nutritional advice has often been a form of moral guidance: to authorities like doctors and religious leaders, public health was a medical and an ethical issue. Corporations have made similar persuasion efforts, often aided by health gurus and sportspersons – from 19th-century fruitarians to 21st-century Instagram influencers advertising their ‘killer’ bodies. By conceptualizing the body as a machine in need of ‘input’, they increasingly sold consumers the prospect of total control over their health and wellbeing.
Yet the public has the agency to modify and contest existing food regimes. By narrativizing the fundamental everyday practice of food consumption, individuals fashion eating – and not-eating – into a performance, thereby inextricably linking these acts to personal identity. Their pursuit for healthy and inspiring lifestyles can lead to greater self-care, but can also encourage problematic body/food mindsets, such as anorexia or orthorexia. No wonder that, since ancient times, the notion of a powerful connection between psychological and physical health has been deployed by spiritual leaders to promise audiences control over their desires and appetites. Hence it is especially in the context of the body that the cultural relevance of food can be explored.

date: Friday, 16 November – Saturday 17 November 2018
Venue: Aula of the University of Amsterdam, Singel 411, 1012 XM Amsterdam.



Friday, 16 November 2018

09:00 – 10:00 Registration and coffee
10:00 – 10:05 Welcome Marike van Roon

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

10:30 – 11.00 Keynote lecture by David Gentilcore

11:00 – 12.30 Panel 1 – Nutritional Science and its Applications

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch break

13.30 – 14.00 Intermezzo – The Four Humours in Early Modern Art

14.00 – 15.30 Panel 2 – (Not) in Control: Diets and Bodily Discipline

15.30 – 16:45  Coffee & Tea break

16:45 – 17:30 Prize-giving Ceremony of the 2017 Johannes van Dam Prize
Drinks at Special Collections UvA.


Saturday, 17 November 2018

09:00 – 09:30 Registration

09.30 – 10.30 Panel 3 – Prescriptions and Proscriptions: Nutrition and Public Health

10.30 – 11.00 Coffee & Tea break

11.00 – 12.00 Panel 4 – The Mediatization and Popularization of Healty Eating

12.00 – 12.20 Wrap-up by Irene Zwiep

12.20 – 12.30 Closing remarks and topic for 2019

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 2018.


Organizing Committee
IJsbrand van Dijk;  Antonia Mazel; Joke Mammen; Jon VerrietIngrid de Zwarte

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



The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food has been made possible with the generous support of the Amsterdam School for Historical Studies – University of Amsterdam, Bibliotheken Eemland, Carrera Culinair, CPNB, Cormet, Fontaine Uitgevers, Huizinga Instituut, Hotel De l’Europe, Nijgh Cuisine, Pitch PR, Publishing House Nieuw Amsterdam, Slow Food Amsterdam, Stichting Gastronomische Bibliotheek and Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam.