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Call for papers: Shared Taste – food and exchange in Asia and Europe

The study of food has long been part of disciplines like history, sociology and anthropology. Scholars see the study of food and food practices as one way of shedding light on a particular place or cultural context, but food and foodstuffs also form a key part of mobility and exchange, as is well-known from the so-called ‘Columbian exchange’ in the Atlantic world. This conference focuses on the movement of food, crops and food practices, along with the migration of people and patterns of trade throughout Eurasia.

This conference invites scholars working across relevant disciplines to present papers that shed light on the Eurasian movement of crops, foodstuffs and food practices, and the role of food in the exchange between Asia and Europe. Eminent French food historian Françoise Sabban will hold the keynote to this conference.

The conference will be hosted by the Shared Taste project (established at the University of Leiden in 2013) and generously funded by the Kikkoman Foundation. For the duration of the period between 2013 and 2017, the Kikkoman Foundation has sponsored the Kikkoman Chair for the Study of Asia-Europe Intercultural Exchange with special attention to art, material culture and human dynamics. For more details, see www.sharedtaste.nl. Conference is scheduled for June 28, 29, 30, Leiden University, Netherlands.

Presentations will ideally focus on aspects of the role of food in the exchange between Asia and Europe. Possible topics may include:

  • Food, drink and cultural exchange between Asia and Europe, including patterns of productions and consumption
  • Food and the study of migration and diaspora
  • Food and materia medica
  • Food and trade in early modern history
  • The visual and material culture of food

To submit a proposal, please send a 300-word abstract and a one-page CV to conference@sharedtaste.nl no later than 15 January 2018. Successful papers will be selected on the basis of quality and fit with the larger themes of the conference.

All accommodation and subsistence costs will be covered for the duration of the conference, and we hope to be able to make substantial contributions towards the cost of all participants’ travel, although priority for financial support towards travel costs will be given to more junior applicants.

The closing date for proposals is 15 January 2018. Successful applicants will be notified by 1 February 2018. To appear on the final program, each selected speaker will submit a text of no more than 2,500 words in length by 11 June 2018.

Global jars

Global Jars:
Asian Containers as (Trans)Cultural Enclosures

Tuesday April 11, 2017, 13:00-18:00 hours
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
Room 104 (Verbarium)
Leiden University

Vessels of all kinds have long been a favoured topic of research, but jars —vessels for storage— have rarely been studied separately. Even less attention has been paid to the connections between the jars themselves and what they contained. Various Chinese vessels found in European and North American collections are commonly referred to as “ginger jars.” The label is misleading, as it suggests a specific content, while such jars in fact could contain a variety of foreign as well as indigenous fillings or simply be left empty.

This workshop aims to bring together a group of scholars who will all examine jars in relation to their contents. Our approach will be transcultural, meaning that we explore not only exchanges of jars and their contents between Asia and the West but also across Eurasia, integrating aspects of inner-Asian exchanges, interactions between North and South, between the Chinese imperial court and the provinces, and between urban and rural.

The workshop is jointly organized by Anne Gerritsen (Leiden University & University of Warwick) and Anna Grasskamp (Hong Kong Baptist University & International Institute of Asian Studies).

All welcome! Please register at register@sharedtaste.nl (more…)

Symposium Export Paintings

Chinese export paintings: studies and interpretations

29 November 2016. Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden. A gathering of curators, art dealers, (art) historians, sinologists, anthropologists and a large audience of many other collectors, scholars, and interested listeners.

rosalien

Rosalien v.d. Poel

The topic: Chinese paintings, made for trade, that have languished for so long in Dutch and English collections without anyone paying them any attention.

Rosalien van der Poel, co-organizer of this symposium, welcomed everyone, and told us that a symposium on this topic had never been organised in the Netherlands before. Anne Gerritsen and Kitty Zijlmans, both of LUCAS, Leiden University chaired the discussions throughout the day. (more…)

Viewing Chinese trade paintings, Museum Volkenkunde

On Tuesday morning 30 November 2016 researcher Rosalien van der Poel organised a special viewing of the collection of Chinese export paintings in the depot of Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden, just hours before her public PhD defense on the topic. We were with a group of 11 international experts, who had all travelled to Leiden to participate in the symposium on Chinese export paintings held at the museum the day before, and to be part of Van der Poel’s reading committee at her defense later in the afternoon. (more…)

The Buddha’s hand at Chenonceau

chenonceau-2It is a citrus fruit like no other: a thick, shiny skin in shades of green and yellow, with numerous elongated shapes pointing downwards, not unlike fingers with long, pointy nails. From its appearance alone, it is not difficult to imagine why it this citrus fruit is known as Buddha’s Hand Fruit (foshougan 佛手柑).

Foushougan, also known as busshukan in Japanese (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis, or the fingered citron) is relatively rare in Europe. The photo to the left was taken by Nicholas Tomlan, Botanical Director at Chenonceau, one of the finest French chateaux along the Loire. (more…)

Shared Taste & IEHCA

The beautiful French city of Tours, located in the Loire Valley in central France, hosts an institute solely dedicated to the study of food. This European Institute for the History and Culture of Food (IEHCA) has an excellent library, hosts cultural events and activities around the protection of food and drink heritage, supports publications in the field, and organises an annual conference on the history of food. Moreover, for the last fourteen years it has hosted a Summer University: a week of intense study dedicated to the cultures and histories of food and drink.

For the first time this year, the Shared Taste project collaborated with the IEHCA Summer University. Anne Gerritsen offered one of the five expert presentations, Alice de Jong was one of the participants, and two students were the beneficiaries of a Shared Taste bursary. This is the first of three Shared Taste blog posts that were inspired by the IEHCA Summer University of 2016.

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Pasta’s global story: Françoise Sabban on the contested history of noodles

Pasta’s global story: Françoise Sabban on the contested history of noodles. A lecture for Shared Taste at SieboldHuis, Leiden

In April 2016, we had the great pleasure of hosting the eminent French food historian Françoise Sabban. Professor Sabban is professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and member of the Centre for Modern and Contemporary China Studies. She is one of the foremost scholars of food history in Europe, and the most eminent historian of Chinese food history. It was a great honour for us to host her in Leiden; her presence was an inspiration, and her lecture was an overwhelming success. (more…)

The curious thing about rhubarb

The most curious thing about this picture is not the tall plant with the big leaves in the middle, or the two pairs of men working in the field either side of the plant, not even the large white long-fingered shape in the lower right-hand corner of the image. Not even the title of the book, visible in the banner in the sky, Rabarbarologia Curiosa, is strange. The strangest thing about the image is, in fact, the architecture of the city in the right-hand background of the image:


A close look at the city reveals white-washed walls with small openings surrounding a city with several tall buildings, a round tower on the far left of the city walls, an entrance gate with what looks like battlements, (more…)