Food, Culture, Politics

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Course Open to: 
Students on-site
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Course Description: 
This class will explore the relationship between social, cultural, political, and ecological determinants of taste and culinary heritage. Topics will range from the political economy of food, the making of national, colonial and regional identities through food products and practices, to historical and contemporary gastronomic philosophies. The emergence of novel cuisines such as molecular gastronomy and New World wines will be discussed. We will follow how food and wine are constructed as objects of desire, markers of national, religious or political identities, moral codes and class distinction. We will explore the relationships between food cultures and rituals, political regimes, historical memories, cultivation practices, geographic and ecological conditions, nutrition and diet, certification standards, national policies, and processes of globalization. We will pay particular attention to the politics of food and wine in the EU, Hungary and Austria. We will also show various films or excerpts to complement the themes touched upon in the readings. Throughout the course there will be a special emphasis on the significance of the place of cultivation and the role of ecological factors under the various names of terroir, geographic appellation, and local knowledge. 


There will be three main assignments in the class: 1. local observation/experience of the local food, coffee and wine scene; 2. analysis of media portrayals of food and wine; and, 3. a food diary.