Aesthetics, Food and Sharing Postgraduate Colloquium

deadline for submissions: 
March 31, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
University of East Anglia
contact email: 

The University of East Anglia's Art History department is delighted to announce its first PGR Colloquium, to be held on Monday 24th May 2021.

The aim of the colloquium is to examine ideas around the aesthetics of food sharing as they expand across histories, communities and identities. We are keen to receive papers from any researchers, across disciplines, which address the aestheticised consumption of food, community stories centered around food, artworks which incorporate food, and spaces which accommodate the sharing of food. We hope that the interdisciplinary nature of this symposium will encourage contributions from PGRs working across different periods, themes and mediums.

We imagine the colloquium addressing three central areas: The Materiality of FoodFrom Sydney Mintz's works, it became clear that food constitutes a remarkable analytical strategy in social sciences. In fact, food, its rituals, and materiality have often been used to analyse different cultures and societal processes. The materiality of food involves the examination of the objects and tools that are essential in the preparation, distribution, and consumption of edible substances. Through these studies, it is possible to understand how food is fundamental in everyday experiences, in the formation of cultural memory and identity reproduction, both in ancient and contemporary societies. What are the dynamics between food, material words, ritual, and commensality? How does the materiality of food become an indicator of social differentiations, groups, and boundaries? How do some objects become mediators between food and its consumption? How can the materiality of food create social, political, and symbolic processes in different cultures?Silver spoon and fork (3rd century A.D), Met Museum, New York​Food and Heritage The Hall at Christ Church, Oxford UniversityIn 2010 UNESCO made history by including, for the first time, the culinary practices of two cultures on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The enshrinement of 'traditional Mexican cuisine' and the 'gastronomic meal of the French' recognised the cultural, social and aesthetic values associated with these culinary traditions. The safeguarding of heritage is also increasingly turning to the physical spaces where eating takes place, from the vaulted college dining halls of Oxford to the bustling hawker centres of Singapore. How do the aesthetic elements of these 'place settings' shape the social contexts of eating? What do these tangible and intangible heritage designations tell us about the cultural, social and historical significance of food and commensality in the negotiation of past and present identities?Food and Contemporary ArtFrom Rirkrit Tiravanija's Pad Thai, to the kitchen in Studio Olafur Eliasson, from Michael Rakowitz’s use of Saddam Hussein’s dinner plates to Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, from Felix Gonzalez-Torres's piles of free candy to Kara Walker’s sugar sculptures, issues around food and sharing are increasingly appearing in contemporary art. What histories are acknowledged in these uses of food in - and as - art? How do these nutritionally useful or useless appearances expand upon the difficulties and possibilities of contemporary art’s interest in social relations

​Papers should be 20-25 minutes in length. Please email abstracts of 250 words, accompanied by a short speaker biography, to by 31st March 2021. For more information please visit