The Taste of War Conference

Values and Meanings of Food in WWII Italy and France

Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London

5 July 2019

Keynote speaker: Kay Chadwick (Liverpool)

The conference aims to bring together scholars working on the history, culture and memory of World War Two to discuss the material and imaginary importance of food in wartime Italy and France. Food is crucial for human survival in wartime but is also a means for economic and strategic military power. Moreover, history, literature and cinema have demonstrated its symbolic significance in creating a message of resilience for the present and future. Cara de Silva, In Memory’s Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin(2006) and Anne Georget’s documentary, Imaginary Feasts(2014) are paradigmatic testimonies of the nourishing effect of food imaginaries to survive dreary periods of starvation. Food becomes therefore both a tool to narrate the war and its memory; a symbol of hope; and a lens through which interpret the relation between governments and their population, between allied troops and local people, between occupied territories and enemies. WWII Italy and France provide an interesting viewpoint for this analysis: both economies were mainly agricultural, and in both countries food shortage produced a marked distinction between rural and urban areas. Historical events brought the two countries to face Nazi occupation and Allies liberation, requisitions and black market.

We invite papers that address the discourse of food in WWII Italy or France within cultural, literary and historic perspectives, focusing on either of the countries or on a comparative approach. 

Interested speakers should send an abstractof about 250 words and a short bioto Dr Patrizia Sambuco email: 31 March 2019.

Topics may include the following: 

  • Food supply and women’s work 
  • Food as a means of propaganda 
  • Black market
  • Cinematic and literary representations of food aid
  • Food as a means of economic power
  • Narratives of food in wartime memoirs 
  • Food in the cultural memory of WWII

Supported by the Cassal Endowment Fund and the Society of Italian Studies

Conference webpage: The Taste of War Conference

Organizers: Katia Pizzi (IMLR), Patrizia Sambuco (IMLR)