Acclaimed professors from across the world are trickling into the Umbra Institute today to collect their badges and informational packets for Food Conference: Perugia. A welcome aperitivo on the Ranieri Foundation’s picturesque terrace will officially commence the first-time international food conference tonight.
Ken Albala, Professor of History at the University of the Pacific, will give the keynote address early Friday morning at the University of Perugia. Albala has published numerous respected works on food studies, varying from “Eating Right in the Renaissance”to “Beans: A History.” Fittingly, his speech will serve as an introduction to the two-day conference.
Held at the Umbra Institute’s building on Via Bartolo, the conference will use the broad topic of food as a lens to analyze the last 150 years of Italian history and cultural identity, according to the event organizers, Umbra Food Studies Professor Zach Nowak and Italian Professor Elgin Eckert.
In the last 150 years, there has been much discussion of seemingly contradictory trends in Italy, including the need for unification beyond the political, the promotion of regional differences, and the simultaneous encouragement of immigration and emigration. Key to this discussion is the question of identity, which is often expressed through tradition, especially in food. However, tradition is itself often recently created.
In a call for papers from their colleagues, Nowak and Eckert posed the question: “How can tradition, or the invention thereof, help or hinder processes of cultural and political integration?”
The conference is free and open to the public; Nowak and Eckert encourage Umbra students to take advantage of the opportunity. Visit Food Conference: Perugia for a detailed schedule of the conference.