Jean-Philippe Laperriere's picture
Call for Papers
September 11, 2015
Quebec, Canada
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Canadian History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Economic History / Studies, Social Sciences



10 ET 11 MARS 2016 / 10 & 11 MARCH 2016



In American and in Europe, food is a well-established research topic in the social sciences. This “total social phenomenon,” in the words of Marcel Mauss, is now an object for study in diverse disciplines.

The first work on food in the social sciences began in the early twentieth century. Often in dialogue with the natural sciences, they resulted from the work of ethnologists, anthropologists or botanists who published fundamental works in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Historians associated with the Annales School took up similar topics early on too. Since the 70s and 80s in Europe and the 1990s in the US food has become a significant research subject with autonomy and visibility (Flandrin and Montanari, 1999) in history, sociology and geography.  Art history, philosophy, literary studies, feminist studies and political science are also interested in food. In a more global perspective, today we speak of Food Studies. That food is an accepted field of scholarly research is attested to by the numerous academic and research associations, the specialized journals, the abundant publication of monographs, essay collections, bibliographies, dictionaries and surveys, which offer abundant original research and theoretical reflections. Moreover, food has also become an object of teaching across the world and now numerous university programs and courses are devoted to Food Studies.

Nevertheless, when they assess the works published and the knowledge accumulated in the field, some scholars show that debates exist about the construction, the limits and the scope of food studies. Some consider that this domain is still in a relatively fragile state and think that their own discipline has only begun to study food and still do so superficially. For instance, according to Jean-Pierre Poulain (2002), sociology’s delay into the field is due in part to the history and constitution of the discipline. Food was too ambiguous an object and was often relegated to “petites sociologies” (secondary purpose) (Claude Grignon’s expression (1995)). Similarly, Julia Csergo (2004) argued that the discipline of history has also long ignored food as an object. It was considered trivial, yet its heuristic potential was recognized. Others, like Kyri Claflin and Peter Scholliers (2012) underlined that in this pluridisiplinary field, methodological differences and academic boundaries sometimes hinder dialogue.


Despite prestigious international and institutional recognition, can we say that the studies in food are an open, respected and recognized academic research topic? Can we really say that this research subject no longer suffers prejudices? Is it no longer accused of being anecdotal, trivial, and quaint (in the words of Jean-Paul Aron and Csergo Julia (2004) or worse, fun (that is to say, it cannot be serious)? What about links between research in Europe and America? Or research conducted in English and French?



Claflin, Kyri W. and Peter Scholliers (dir.), 2012. Writing Food History. A Global Perspective, Berg publishers, London, New York.

Csergo, Julia (dir.), 2004. Histoire de l’alimentation. Quels enjeux pour la formation? Éducagri éditions, Dijon, France.

Flandrin, Jean-Louis et Montanari, Massimo (ed.), 1999. Food. A Culinary History, Columbia University Press, New York.

Grignon, Claude, 1995. « L’alimentation populaire et la question du naturel », dans Nicole Eizner, Voyage en alimentation, Association des ruralistes français, Paris, France.

Poulain, Jean-Pierre, 2002. Sociologies de l’alimentation, PUF, Paris, France.



To answer these questions, we will acknowledge what is currently being done on North America. And this is the basis of the present conference: to bring together young researchers to identify what is being done here, where and how.

Young researchers are those who:

  1. are currently pursuing a doctorate (PhD.);
  2. or whose doctoral thesis was defended within the last ten years, and whose first book is being or has been released within the last three years.

The purpose of the conference includes all the conceptual and theoretical perspectives, provided that they focus on diet and its various aspects, such as food, food and gastronomy in America or in Europe-America relations. In addition, the food field is organized around several areas of research. Julia Csergo (2004) lists four that we utilize here. They suggest the different panels that will take place during this conference:

  1. Economic analysis, interested in people, food production and markets;
  2. Analyses of  consumption, which relate to food intake and nutrition;
  3. Sociocultural analysis, working on rules, standards and tastes;
  4. And finally, “analyses du sensible,” which reflect the attitudes and representations.

We invite proposals for papers on various topics.
For example (non-exhaustive, non-exclusive): food and...

  • Mutual influences, for example, contacts and combinations of influences between Europe and America; between First Nations and settlers; between migrants, refugees, etc.;
  • Analysis of food production: the history of agriculture, food processing, industrial food, and marketing;
  • Consumer practices, consuming places and contexts (family meals, festive meals, restaurants, dining at institutions such as schools or prisons);
  • Normative discourse (labels, home economics, dietary and health advice, advertising and marketing);
  • Representations (in works of fiction in the media in the travel stories or advertising, including tourism, in cookbooks, in visual arts, literature, theater, etc.);
  • Cultural communities, gender, social class and social determinants (poverty, inequality, insecurity);
  • Claims and social protests (feminist and environmentalist movements, unions, etc.);
  • Religion;
  • Etc.


To submit a proposal:

The scientific committee will make the evaluation. Their role will be to take into account the relevance of proposals in relation to the theme of the conference, originality and scholarly rigor.

The deadline for submissions is Friday September 11, 2015. Proposals must contain (for communication with a 20 minutes period) a title, an abstract of up to 300 words and a short resumé that contains your institutional affiliation, education, academic appointments, and your contributions to the field of food studies.

We encourage panel proposals. In this case, all proposals should be contained in the same document.

Please send your documents to Proposals and communications may be made in French or English. The conference center is mainly francophone; it is therefore encouraged that the material for communications be bilingual.

After evaluation, the best papers will be published in both English and French in the series Gastronomica – Food Library, Éditions Le Manuscrit (established in Paris and new at New York and Montreal,

Contact Info: 

This conference is organized with the senior scientific support of :

Julia Csergo, contemporary history,
Professor, études urbaines et touristiques, ESG-UQAM, Canada.


Jean-Philippe Laperrière, PhD student, sociologie, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), and lecturer, département d’études urbaines et touristiques, ESG-UQAM, Québec (Canada)

Caroline Durand, Assistant Professor, History, Trent University, Ontario (Canada) 


Sarah Bak-Geller, historia, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, México

Mélanie Boucher, histoire de l’art et muséologie, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Québec, Canada

Kyri W. Claflin, history, Boston University, Massachusetts, USA.

Michaela DeSoucey, sociology and anthropology, North Carolina State University, North Carolina, USA

Anne Dupuy, sociologie, Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France

Caroline Durand, history, Trent University, Ontario, Canada

Jean-Philippe Laperrière, sociologie & études urbaines et touristiques, UQAM, Québec, Canada