The Many Rooms of the House

Fifty Years of Food Historiography

Peter Scholliers

History of food has always been part of general history writing, but since a decade or so food history has become huge all over the world. Witness to that are recent journals (Food, Culture & Society; Food and Foodways; Food & History; Gastronomica), the frequent organisation of scientific meetings, the booming publications of both scientific and coffee-­‐table books, many exhibitions, and the launching of university teaching. This lecture examines and interprets this phenomenon by considering approaches, topics, methodologies, and sources that have been used to write food history since the 1950s. This questioning surveys some fifty years of (general) history writing. However, special to food historiography are the promptly cultural turn in the 1980s, the dialogue with other disciplines (whether quantitative sociology, postmodern ethnology or post-­‐processual archaeology) in the 1990s, and the endless exploration of new themes that refer to everyday life as well as exceptional events, such as migrants and their food, identity construction through food, public spaces and food, food and health, and the political meaning of banquets. The talk will stress the need to keep food history within general history, but together preserving close links with other disciplines, which is necessary to renovate (food) history constantly.