PERUGIA, Italy — Christina Solazzo, of the College of Wooster, presented her senior thesis on Slow Wineries at the bi-annual Food Conference: Perugia, an international scholarly meeting whose theme was “Perspectives on Food and Landscapes.” Christina is a rising senior at Wooster, pursuing a Sociology major and a minor in Political Science. She previously studied abroad through the Umbra Institute’s Food & Sustainability Studies Program (FSSP), as well as its Intensive Italian Summer Program. She is currently Umbra’s FSSP Summer Intern, and was part of the organizing committee for the conference.
Food Conference: Perugia ran from June 9-12 and was organized and hosted by the Umbra Institute. Solazzo was key to the event as many aspects of her summer internship revolved around preparations for the conference. The theme of the food conference sought to highlight how cultural and social processes affect the creation of landscapes and their perception, delving into the relationship between landscapes and food. Many of the papers delivered took an anthropological or environmental studies approach to the idea that landscapes are often molded through food production and consumption, and the rules that are designed to protect and enhance landscapes that find themselves linked to particular foods and cultural heritages.
Solazzo began her presentation, titled “Transitional Landscapes of a Slow Winery in a Global Society”, with her background in Slow Wine, specifically regarding her relationship with the owners of the Tabarrini Winery in Montefalco. Solazzo knows the winery well, as she has been a Communications Intern there for the past two years. “I received research approval to look at the microculture of a slow winery,” said Solazzo as she described the beginning of her research and work with the Tabbarrini family. “I knew that I wanted to research what they do and their daily interactions, through participant observations, interviews, photographs, and small communications projects.” Solazzo shared that, specifically through communications projects, though they were designed to serve the winery’s marketing needs, she was able to get an inside look at the inner functions of the winery, the production of the wine, and other more specific characteristics that are often presented to professional wine connoisseurs.
“What these experiences really showed me was how important landscapes, glocalization, community, and the Slow Food organization are to Italian Wineries,” explained Solazzo. “These global cultural flows have always existed, but they are now occurring at a faster pace and on a much larger scale than ever before. As location becomes less restrictive, society is reacting by becoming more obsessed with it.” She then went on to elaborate on Slow Winery links to transitional landscapes using anthropologist Arjun Appadurai’s conceptual framework of “Scapes”: ethnoscapes, technoscapes, finanscapes, mediascapes, and ideoscapes. Solazzo will continue her research with the aid of Copeland Funding, as part of her Senior Independent Study at Wooster.
The College of Wooster was also represented at the food conference by Kate Laubacher. Laubacher graduated from Wooster with a BA in Psychology, and is now at Chatham University pursuing her MA in Food Studies with a concentration in Markets and Marketing. During the conference, she shared her thesis “Conviviality and Community: Third Places in the U.S. and Europe.” Laubacher, also an alumna of Umbra’s Food & Sustainability Studies Program, will remain in Perugia for the next two weeks to continue her research as she observes third places throughout Perugia and takes advantage of resources available at the Umbra Institute’s library.
As the conference came to a close, Zachary Nowak, a member of Laubacher’s master thesis committee, a conference organizer and host, and associate director of the Food & Sustainability Studies Program at the Umbra Institute, reflected that, “Food can’t be fully understood outside of the material context it’s produced, distributed, and consumed in. While terroir is often given as the determining factor, the presentations at this conference emphasize the other variables, human or not, that create all the values that food carries.”
Also on the organizing committee was the Umbra Institute’s academic director, Dr. Francesco Burzacca, who added, “We’re very proud of the enduring success of this conference. The theme’s strong connection with the curricular concentration of Umbra’s Food & Sustainability Studies Program reaffirmed the high academic value and up-to-date status of our teaching.” 2016 marks the third time the conference was held. The organizers confirmed that they will be repeating the event in 2018.