Food in Italy: Culture, Politics and Identity
Food is a lens through which the society we live in may be interpreted and observed.
SUST 201 - Food in Italy: Culture, Politics and Identity
Instructor: Caterina Bragantini
Welcome to Food in Italy! In this course we will draw on food studies approaches to understand how cultural, political and economic factors influence the world of food in Tuscany and Italy. Everybody has heard about “Italian food”, and “Tuscan food” in particular, but few people are actually aware of the complex history and present reality that such sweeping terms hide. By studying and applying critical social science analysis, we will go beyond the stereotypes and acquire knowledge that is far closer to the natives’ experience than what is usually conveyed through mass-media portrayals.
We will study a variety of examples drawn from the production, exchange and consumption of food (including organic agriculture, Slow Food, farmers’ markets, cooperatives, solidarity purchase groups, etc.). Some of the questions we will be exploring include: What do meals tell us about identities, gender assumptions, family roles and political allegiances? How do we create moral relations with other people, animals, bodies, heritage and nature through food? We will begin with empirical and historical issues concerning Tuscany, and then augment this geographical focus with case studies from other Italian regions. To better comprehend today’s agri-food world, we must consider the similarities and differences between locales, regions, and beyond.
I plan this to be an introductory course to food studies, meaning that I accept you might be unfamiliar with much of the literature. However, I also assume that you work hard and learn fast. The aim of this course is to encourage students to formulate a critical understanding of Italian food culture by closely integrating study, discussion and experience of the local context
Office Hours: Student consultation is encouraged via Skype (by appointment) or at the School during my monthly visit to Siena
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