Street food: an urban history

David Do Paço's picture
Call for Papers
May 26, 2016 to May 27, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Urban History / Studies


This panel seeks papers that consider the many ways in which street food developed throughout history.

It would take place in the “Second International Conference on Food History and Culture” in Tours (France), May 26-27, 2016.

Street food significantly developed over the last decade and cannot anymore be assimilated to junk and fast food -that would be the result of the frenetic pace of modern urban life- nor even to something new. From the take-away fried fish of ancient Alexandria to the present fancy food trucks in New York, London or Paris, through the Aztec tortilla sellers, the Ottoman şerbetçi or the allegedly immemorial Japanese Yaki Imo vendors, numerous practices have already been observed -and some of them are well-known- in different times and places.

This call for papers doesn’t aim to resume a lost world but to examine urban cultures in practice, into which street food provides and exceptional insight able to shed a new light on our present foodways.

Street food deals with formal and informal economy, with urban popular sociability and leisure, with the emergence of public sphere and its correlated policy of social control. Street food can support practices that partially or totally define a group or a community. It encompasses both the environmental and emotional dimensions of the urban history. It sits at the crossroad of the economic, social, and cultural histories of consumption. Street food could also be a consequence of a specific urban planning that generates it when it doesn’t try to eradicate it, in the name of modernity and food safety. However, most of the time, street food is an appropriation of the public space, and gets out of the municipal control.



This panel invites to broach all these issues and other perspectives able to get a better understanding of urban food cultures form the street. For consideration, please send a 250-word proposal with title, in English or in French, along with a brief bio and contact information by September 30th, 2016, to David Do Paço:

The panel will be the first step of a peer-review publishing project.

Contact Info: 

David Do Paço, Ph.D. in history from the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (2012), formerly Max Weber fellow at the European University Institute (2013-2015), presently researcher at Sciences Po and associated researcher at LÉA-EA 6294 (Équipe Alimentation) of the University of Tours.