Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food

The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food has the aspiration to become an annual point of assembly and an exchange of knowledge in the field of the food history. It intends to stimulate debate and research that bridges the gap between different disciplines. Another aim is to transfer academic research to a wider public and stimulate research using the Special Collection of the University of Amsterdam. The symposium is therefore targeted at both an academic and a professional audience.

The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food is the result of a collaborative partnership between the Special Collections, University of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam School of Historical Studies, University of Amsterdam and the research unit Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Organizing Committee
IJsbrand van Dijk;  Antonia Mazel; Joke Mammen; Jon VerrietIngrid de Zwarte

Advisory Board
Prof. Dr. Ir. Louise O. Fresco; Mrs. Claudia Roden; Prof. Dr. Peter Scholliers; Prof. Dr. Irene E. Zwiep.

ASHF logo 2017.indd


Making Sense of Taste (topic)

From which angle does a scholar approach the concept of taste? Is it primarily an objective, chemical quality, or should it be considered a product of culture? And are these perspectives wholly incompatible? The physical quality and flavour of food and drink preoccupy molecular biologists, gastronomic professionals, and bon vivants. Chemists, among others, construe classification systems, aspiring to help us understand the complexity and the possibilities of flavour. Mediators and their audiences may oftentimes embrace subjectivity, by detailing their intimate and embodied experience of taste. Neither approach is new: historically, classification systems have had major cultural and religious significance, whereas the conception of ‘good’ food – as opposed to ‘bad’ food – and its application in mechanisms of social distinction is at least as old as class-based societies themselves. Clearly, discussions about taste have always been informed by an array of physiological and psychological experiences, not just our palates.
This year’s Symposium aims to address this complex notion of taste: its characteristics, its cultural evaluation, and its history.


Friday, 17 November – Saturday 18 November 2017
Venue: Aula of the University of Amsterdam
Singel 411, 1012 XM Amsterdam.


Symposium fee is €60 (reduced fee €40).
To register please follow this link.
Since places are allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis, please register as early as possible.



Friday, 17 November 2017

09:00 – 10:00  Registration and coffee
10:00 – 10:05  Welcome Marike van Roon

10:05 – 10:30  Professor J.M. van Winter Stipendium

10:30 – 11.00  Keynote lecture by Peter Klosse

11:00 – 12.30  Panel 1 – Taste and its Representations

12.30 – 13.30  Lunch break

13.30 – 14.00  Caro VerbeekIn Search of Lost Scents

14.00 – 15.30  Panel 2 – Taste and Power

15.30 – 16:45  Tea break

16:45 – 17:30  Prize-giving Ceremony of the 2016 Johannes van Dam Prize and the 2016 Joop Witteveen Prize
Drinks at Special Collections UvA.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

09:00 – 09:30 Coffee
09.30 – 10.00  Joanita Vroom, Mink van IJzendoorn and Anouk EvertsA Matter of Taste: The Experiment of a ‘Byzantine Taste-lab’ Placed in Socio-Historican Context

10.00 – 11.00  Panel 3 – Networks and Public Tastes

11.00 – 12.00  Panel 4 – (In)authentic Tastes

12.00 – 12.30  Wrap-up by Viktoria von Hoffmann

Afternoon Programme of the Foodie Festival at Special Collections of the UvA (festival starts at 12.30)



Participants are free to make their own accommodation booking. Many hotels are situated in the vicinity of the conference venue in the Amsterdam historic city centre. The following website can be useful:


Call for Papers

Abstract submission is closed.
Please look here for the CfP: Call for Papers 2017.



Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam

The Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam preserve and maintain the academic heritage of the university. There are over a thousand sub-collections, comprising rare and valuable books, manuscripts, prints, photographs and much, much more. The collections serve educational and research purposes but are also there for the general public.

Amsterdam School of Historical Studies, University of Amsterdam
The Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH) is a research institute of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam. The institute focuses on culture and history. Research is organized both along thematic lines (religion, the city, theatre, conflict, medicine), and in terms of periods in time (e.g. the classical period, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Golden Age, the contemporary period), which are studied from an interdisciplinary perspective (art, history, literature, music, theatre, etc.).

Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel
FOST is a research group for social and cultural food studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The research group, founded in April 2003, works in collaboration with the Vlaams Centrum voor Volkscultuur, the Institut Européen de l’Histoire de l’Alimentation and the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique.
FOST aims at consolidating the expertise on foodstudies by inviting (foreign) specialists to workshops and colloquia, by operating within networks, by publishing and contemplating about food studies, and by performing new (multidisciplinary) food research.

Past years:

For the details on the topics and the programme of the Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food of the past years please click on the titles:

2016 – Fire, Knives and Fridges

2015 – Food, Hunger and Conflict

2014 – Cooking up the Low Countries : Textual and Visual Representations of Culinary Culture in Belgium and the Netherlands (16th-21st century)


The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food has been made possible with the generous support of Amsterdam University Fund, Amsterdam School of Historical Studies of the University of Amsterdam, the Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) research unit of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Doctoral School of Human Sciences of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

partners kleiner